Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger Review

Ty Segall, the man described as “L. A’s most prolific and enigmatic rock star” has released yet another album. The ever busy Segall seems to release albums and EPs in a frenzied fashion whether it’s a solo endeavour (his single from late last year, “Mr Face” was fairly impressive) or with the heavily distorted rock group Fuzz. Segall wears his influences on his sleeves as he takes elements from psychedelic, punk and garage rock synthesising them into one, at times, incredible lo-fi sound. Segall obviously puts his time in in the recording studio (he’s released 9 solo albums since 2008) but this can often result in a music that feels a little ‘run of the mill’, not reaching the heights that he often does in moments on these albums. Does his latest effort, “Emotional Mugger” stand out from his crowded collection of albums?

“Emotional Mugger” (the definition of which can be found on Segall’s website) is probably Segall’s best and coolest work yet. On this record Segall combines the influences previously mentioned more cohesively than he has done before whilst adding new elements. The stand out track, “Diversion”, is symbolic of one side of the record in the way it uses the elements he’s used to but channels it into different directions. Straight from the off he creates a huge wall of heavy, distorted noise which the riff and his psychedelic tinged voice use as a platform. Beyond the impressive production it’s just damn catchy, its simple lyrics “Diversion/ I’m back, I’m back, I’m back…. Used to say that I loved you/Yeah, Yeah, yeah but I don’t” are almost hypnotic. If every Segall guitar solo got a mention this article would probably go on forever but it has to be said that this one is particular good, especially when it’s combined with that wall of sound used throughout the song.

Segall also gets a little groovy on “Leopard Priestess” where the guitar feels a little smoother and the edges are worn down for a smoother sound toward the end of the song. From the alternating pitch of his vocals throughout the song to the groovy, head bobbing riff, it’s rock at its coolest. The album closer, “The Magazine” is also an experimental success. It creates a kind of weird, dark and haunting atmosphere through its supercharged bass and moody drums. It’s probably best shown when Segall’s vocals echo “it’s all in the magazine” and is then followed up by a succession of claps with a glitchy Theremin like sound.

Ty shows his experimental side again on “California Hills” which feels restless from the beginning as it switches pace intermittently (with some frenzied electronics) in the first part of the track. It’s slow psychedelic groove is matched by lost lyrics from the 1960s that haven’t lost their cool or accessibility, ‘American nightmare, guilty generation/ Fingers on the post, of their parent’s alienation/ From the histories, histories/ Of western civilisation”. The song crescendos into what can only be described as a noisy soup of sound and it’s pretty great.

Each song has its own sense of weird and on “Baby Big Man” the vocals are weird enough that the song title is entirely justified. These weird vocals appear on “Candy Sam” as well but what surrounds it is so much more. The guitars are heavily saturated and that distorted wall of sound rears its head again though it comes more in waves this time. Segalls vocals stand apart just enough from the barrage but what I’m really loving is the punky drums that undoubtedly lead to some lively scenes in life performances.

“Squealer”, the opener, is solid enough and whilst just as strange as some of the other tracks is much less catchy or experimental. “Squaler Two” is however, much more interesting. The track has a strange funky swagger despite sounding a little carnival like. The track is probably one of the most eccentric sogs on the album with some back ground electronics cutting in and out and what has to be one of Segall’s most bizarre vocals on any track.

It’s not all sunshine though, “W.U.O.T.W.S” is pretty awful. On this one occasion there is no method in the madness in what is a compilation of the riffs on the album. If it had been an interlude track it probably wouldn’t have been mentioned but it goes on for 3 minutes. All it means is that you’ll have to skip one track on what is otherwise one of the coolest and most experimental lo-fi rock albums to come out in recent years.

Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger = 8.5/10

Callum Christie


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