Album Review: Ty Segall’s “Emotional Mugger”

Taylor Richards – News Writer

Ty Segall is lost in a land of nonstop activity of recording and touring that has spanned the last eight years. His latest, and probably weirdest, effort is his new album “Emotional Mugger.” This is his 10th solo studio album since 2008, which doesn’t include singles, EP’s and multiple collaboration albums he’s released within the same time span. His devoted fans already know how prolific he is, and it’s always a treat to see which direction and what influences build his yearly efforts.

If anyone finds themselves in a musical discovery slump, listening to the same old albums and feeling like “no good music is being made nowadays,” then it is worth taking a nosedive into Segall’s seemingly endless discography. He has something for anyone, whether it sounds melodic with classic hooks, to scratchy, cringey garage rock.

“Emotional Mugger” was on Pitchfork’s list of “27 Albums We’re Most Excited for in 2016,” and did not disappoint expectations. His last album, “Manipulator,” featured pretty organs, smooth harmonies and vocals. “Emotional Mugger” practically took “Manipulator” and stomped all over it with fuzzy riffs, harsh stops and abrasive synthesizers. He sprinkled low-bellied chants/yells in the middle of singing verses, which resembled a technique Marilyn Manson and Beck did in the 90s, but with melodies in the background going all over the place. It sounds like Segall is playing every instrument at once and making it up entirely as he goes along, but in a good way.

The album cover is a xeroxed picture of a baby doll wearing an imperfect bow with blacked out eyes. It doesn’t say “Emotional Mugger” anywhere on the cover but has a little text bubble in the bottom right corner that reads “No Man is Good Three Times.” Segall uses the word “candy” in almost every song in the album. Many song names are children-related, like “Squealer,” “Candy Sam,” “Mandy Cream” and “Baby Big Man (I Want a Mommy).” The word “candy” is used as a metaphor for addiction, hedonism and sinful yet learned behavior and values.

When Segall released this album to writers and reviewers, he mailed it on a VHS tape and provided his own definition of “Emotional Mugging.”

The over-communication relayed in cell based technology and content driven media further detaches passengers of our modern society from deep emotional understanding.”

Segall is basically saying that the internet is ruining the way we naturally communicate with each other by making everything immediately available. This is ironic of him to proclaim, considering he is obsessive about making new work over and over. Although he is guilty of this, “Emotional Mugger” still sounds arduous and like a product of hours on hours of experimentation. There is a clear dichotomy of instant gratification and long, hard work portrayed in Segall’s latest work, but he balances it with aplomb.
“Emotional Mugger” is trippy, scary and beautiful. It is like nothing else made last year, and probably will stand alone in 2016 as well. It is well worth a good listen or 50.

Photo Credit: laferry


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