WPGM Recommends: Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger (Album Review)

The busiest man in garage rock is back again with his 10th studio album. Ty Segall’s latest offering, Emotional Mugger, is a delinquent side-step from his reassembly composed last solo record The Manipulator. It’s a fuzz fuelled wave of sound from start to finish and sees Segall delve deeper into his own psyche than ever before. Topped off by it’s nightmarish cover of a hollow eyed plastic baby in over exposed black and white. This record is not gentle nor sane – it is Segall at his most crazed.

Over the last eight years, the Californian rocker has released a plethora of material varying from punk to folk to psychedelia, constantly evolving and changing direction. The Manipulator was comparatively clean with harmonies reminiscent of Segall’s work with White Fence, Emotional Mugger however has followed a separate path. The LP, at times, sounds like it was inspired by acid or even a head injury; beastly guitar hooks, never ending fuzz and angelic vocals meet expectations without Segall musically repeating himself.

Opening track “Squealer” starts the record off with a mid-tempo beat playing somewhere in between funk and psych. The track builds into a wall of sound that’s almost counterintuitive to its introduction and is later concluded by a trademark solo. Following this is the psychotic dreamscape of Californian Hills and the screeching riffs of title track “Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess“.

As expected, the fuzz continues through to the album’s archetypal track “Diversion“. It’s a perfect storm of hard hitting guitar, massive use of gain and bucket load of energy. Segall’s echoing voice cries “Diversion, I’m back, I’m back, I’m back” over rumbling distortion. Whether the lyrics are an ode to a new style of musical endeavour or just Segall wanting an excuse to scream will be up to fans to decide. It teases with minute moments of silence only to drop back and crush your ears once more.

As the album continues, it feels like Segall has made it his mission to melt faces at every turn. “Mandy Cream” follows through on this with relentless guitar flicks and is proceeded by Emotional Mugger’s lead single “Candy Sam“. The track plays in two tones. Reaching its height in a progressive chorus which, to mix things up, ends the song with the addition of a children’s choir. Being playful in the depths of insanity seems to be thematic throughout Segall’s work however this LP it is more true than ever before.

By the time the LP reaches “W.U.O.T.W.S“, all brevity of sense is lost. Clippings of numerous tracks are combined in a mess of noise and chaos. The album is concluded with softer vocal harmonies over a grating backbone of bass in Magazine, this of course leads into frantic guitar screeches before it’s end.

Emotional Mugger is distinctively Ty Segall yet not always as expected. It exists as a means to mess with your head rather than to follow any particular musical path. Thriving in lunacy whilst embracing the energetic flow of Segall’s previous solo albums such as Slaughterhouse and Melted. As with all his music, it leads to question how one artist can produce such quantity of work whilst remaining with such a high level of quality and care. Perhaps because he works so relentlessly, he has an excuse to be slightly crazy, at the end of it all, that’s what Emotional Mugger is. Crazy.

Ty Segall’s Emotional Mugger is out now via Drag City Records, purchase it on iTunes here.

Words by Oscar Nicholas

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