By now, it’s pretty difficult to overlook Ty Segall because he releases an album, whether it’s a solo project or with one of his many other bands, essentially four times a year. In 2015 alone he released a short EP, a T.Rex cover album, Fuzz’s II, and a single with Gøggs. The guy never quits—never quits creating new and innovative sounding music.
His latest, Emotional Mugger, is a testament to his evolving sound and image, while staying true to his garage rock roots.
He announced the album by sending VHS tapes with Emotional Mugger dubbed over a crappy Nicole Kidman movie to various music publications like Spin and Pitchfork, but also included a mysterious phone number said to contain more information once called. (That number is 1-800-281-2968, and I would highly recommend calling.) With this unconventional way of publicizing his album, Segall set the tone for what his album’s major themes would be: consumerism, maturity, cyber-reality, and society’s intrigue with the disingenuous.
Emotional Mugger is by far Segall’s most sonically experimental album. He utilizes more synths, like on songs like “Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess” and “Baby Big Man (I Want a Mommy),” but his song structure is also less conventional than his previous albums. There are more dives into extended jams and solos, but they are kept to a minimum so as not to sound too busy and convoluted. “Squealer Two” takes a groovier funk turn, while “W.U.O.T.W.S.” sounds like a collage of rejected song ideas. Segall also collaborated with Tim Presley of White Fence on a handful of songs, and Presley’s minimalist influence is obvious on songs like “Squealer” and “Breakfast Eggs.”
“Diversion” is a personal favorite on the album because it combines his trademark fuzz-doused sound with new elements, such as a somewhat “double persona” (i.e. singing in a deep voice and replying in a higher pitched one). All in all, this is a great album and perfectly fits in his discography; Emotional Mugger is evolved just enough to sound fresh. However, it would not be atop a recommended list for a first time listener looking to join the Cult of Segall because it’s more experimental and not as catchy as albums like Twins and Melted.
Recommended If You Like: Fuzz, White Fence, some Velvet Underground, T. Rex, Meatbodies
Recommended Tracks: 5 (Diversion), 1 (Squealer), 9 (Squealer Two), 8 (Candy Sam)
Do Not Play: None
Written by Caroline Roe on 02/08/16