Ty Segall

Emotional Mugger

Written by: BV on 31/01/2016 17:54:03

At this point in time it can hardly be called a surprise that the intervals between new releases featuring Ty Segall aren’t all that lengthy. They aren’t quite as short as his magnificently proficient 2012 which featured no less than three full-length albums in the form of “Hair”, “Slaughterhouse” and “Twins”. Later years also featured some prominent releases from the ever-producing garage prodigy in the form of off-shoot band Fuzz and Segall’s own jump from the folk-driven “Sleeper” over through the glam-infused “Manipulator”.

What Segall then possibly needed to do to effectively kick off 2016 would undoubtedly be yet another release where he, once again, changes musical perspective and incorporates a consistently harsh, lo-fi driven sound. His backing band has changed as a result of this, and Segall is effectively backed up by The Muggers, consisting of Mikal Cronin (bass, saxophone), Kyle Thomas (guitar), Emmett Kelly (guitar), and Wand's Cory Hanson (keyboards, guitar) and Evan Burrows (drums) on his newest release, “Emotional Mugger”, which has apparently spawned a minor alternate universe wherein Segall refers to himself as Sloppo on stage whilst wearing a rather grim baby mask.

This all sounds a bit artsy in a sense, and the music certainly plays into this as well. Whereas “Manipulator” opened with pristine organ tones, “Squealer” opens up “Emotional Mugger” in a distinctly more lo-fi, almost cold to the bone way. It’s a rather grim sound in many ways, which is definitely intended to provoke a thought or two along the line of; ”wow, where is his sound going now?” - Something Segall has previously attempted (and succeeded with) countless times before. The main difference here is that the constant urge to reinvent himself is actually getting a bit tiresome if it comes at the expense of the great tracks. Granted, “California Hills” is magnificent in that sort of lo-fi, garage-punk coupled with Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd kind of way in its playfulness and gritty execution. But there are quite frankly more than a few examples of near pointless indulgence on “Emotional Mugger”.

One such song would have to be “W.U.O.T.W.S” which basically consists of a series of noises smacked together in an either genuinely ambitious, but altogether avant-garde way or a devil-may-care, almost pretentious fashion. Whichever notion you subscribe to, it’s hard to actually call it an enjoyable track even if you’re in to the grittiest garage-punk out there.

I will, however, give credit to Ty Segall for being consistent in his choice of metaphors throughout the album. Using “candy” as a consistent reference links the songs in a manner similar to a concept album without actually ever embarking on a musical journey that is almost always a setup towards failure as seen (and heard) so many times since the end of the golden era for concept albums in the early 1980’s. All in all, there are many interesting versions of Segall’s songwriting at play here – whether on the Frank Zappa-like wit of “Baby Big Man (I Want a Mommy)”, the mid-paced face-melter in the form of “Candy Sam” or on the obvious standout track “California Hills”.

However, this time I’d just have to, reluctantly, point out that Segall’s rapid release tempo and constant urge to reinvent himself might finally have proven itself a disadvantage. In its essence, “Emotional Mugger” seems to be little more than a stepping stone towards something even more out there or a minor halt until Segall once again shifts gears and heads in an entirely new direction. Only time will tell, but as far as “Emotional Mugger” goes, I can’t honestly see myself warming up to it.

Download: California Hills, Baby Big Man (I Want a Mommy), Candy Sam
For the fans of: Thee Oh Sees, Fuzz, The Black Lips
Listen: Facebook

Release date 22.01.2016
Drag City

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