Ty Segall – ‘Emotional Mugger’ – Album Review

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ty segall emotional mugger review

Emotional Mugger  Is Out On 22 January Via Drag City.

When writing about Ty Segall you have to use the word prolific, it’s unavoidable. Since 2008 Ty Segall has pretty much released an album every year, for eight years, and that’s just his solo albums. He also has enough side projects to make Jack White feel lazy and has also released a myriad of EP’s, singles and compilations. And while he has a definitive Lo-Fi/Garage Rock sound, each album is different. From his fuzz-filled, reverb-heavy self-titled debut, to the acoustic Psychedelic Folk of ‘Sleeper’, Ty Segall’s output seems to reflect how he feels in the moment of making a particular album. And if Emotional Mugger is anything to go by, Ty seems to be feeling a little disturbed.

It’s hard not to talk about Emotional Mugger without talking about the slightly off the wall way that Ty Segall and record label Drag City decided to promote it, as it sets up the feel of the album perfectly. The press release for the album reads like a poem penned by a deranged serial killer. The first format of Emotional Mugger was released to the press as a VHS tape. There was a hotline on the album’s website that left you a creepy message when you called it, and the video accompanying ‘Candy Sam’ saw Ty and co perform the song in bloated rubber baby masks.

Even the album cover is a little eerie, and you would be forgiven for thinking that maybe Ty Segall has finally snapped. Maybe steadily releasing albums has taken its toll on his mind and made him go a little off the rails. And you’d be right; he has gone off the rails but in the best possible way.

Ty Segall’s last effort, Manipulator is probably the closest he has ever been to making a polished album. The songs on Manipulator are longer, the sound is cleaner, and his Pop influences shine through a lot more than they have on his other releases. However, Emotional Mugger sees Ty taking a sharp U-turn and reverting to the gritty Garage/Glam Rock sludge of his earlier releases.


The album’s opener, ‘Squealer’ sets the tone for the rest of the album with weird lyrics like : “Jackson Square, I spent a year/Hot soup waiting in your ear”. The excellent distortion-heavy riffs, guitar solos and the ever changing pace from song to song linked together with Theremin freak-outs, make you realise that Ty Segall is simultaneously maintaining and losing control, as evident on the final moments of the second track ‘Californian Hills’.

Sonically this album sees Ty Segall firmly plant his feet into his garage rock roots. The guitars on this album are as dirty and fuzzy as ever. Tracks like ‘Emotional Mugger / Leopard Priestess’ ‘Breakfast Eggs’ and ‘Diversion’ are some of the heaviest tracks Ty has ever recorded and give you the feeling that you are sticking your head into the business end of a Marshall stack. The rhythm section maintains a chaotic pace throughout, punctuated by Ty’s vocals that are a melting pot of his influences; everyone from Marc Bolan to Liam Gallagher can be heard in his unique vocal style.

As with most of Ty Segall’s albums, ‘Emotional Mugger’ is short, sharp and succinct. And while the sound stays on a grimy Garage Rock path, there are still moments that will both surprise and intrigue the listener. Like the flourishes of psychedelia on tracks like the album’s closer ‘The Magazine’. Or his experiments with noise and tape echoes on ‘W.U.O.T.W.S.’ which sounds like Captain Beefheart sitting in on a take of The Stooges’ ‘L.A Blues’

Listening to Emotional Mugger is like driving around at high speed in a beaten up car with a lunatic at the wheel. You are not quite sure where you are going, and the sharp left turns without any warning constantly keep you on your toes. But then you finally get to the destination, and you can’t help the feeling that you want to do it all over again.

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