Album Review: Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger

Surprise, a new Ty Segall album. I bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? The fuzz rock wunderkind has kept a pretty steady habit of putting out two or three albums a year, whether under his own name or with some pals in another band. Last year’s quite excellent Manipulator showed that if Segall takes a little time in-between these records he can actually add some nuance to the proceedings, as opposed to bashing Big Muffs over our heads for 30 minutes or so. Manipulator also showed in great detail that Segall is a groove monster, letting his inner T. Rex shine quite nicely.

Well, he seems to have gotten that whole thing out of his system so we’re back to the usual suspects, with a hint of quirkiness thrown in for good measure. Emotional Mugger seems to be Segall shaking all that cleaned up rhythm and groove off and getting back to that fuzzy garage rock we know so well.

I’ve never been much of a fan of Ty Segall. I think he’s a talented guy(and a hell of a drummer), but the music seems to stay in this gritty gray zone most of the time. If I’m in the mood for that sort of thing, then he’s great. But otherwise it’s just like white noise to me. I loved Manipulator. I think that was a shining moment for the California native. So when I heard Emotional Mugger for the first time I have to say I was a little disappointed. I was hoping he’d expand his musical horizons even more this time around. It seems he’s decided to keep with the distortion pedals and Frequency Analyzers, and after a few repeated listens it seems it’s not such a bad thing. “Squealer” gets down and dirty right off the bat. It seems Segall may have found some early Alice Cooper records as this track has a fuzzed-out weirdness and queasiness to it that is reminiscent of Cooper’s Easy Action, Love It To Death, and Killer. “California Hills” will make fans of Segall’s Twins very happy as this song feels like it could’ve been an outtake from that recording session. “Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess” is unsettling in it’s skronky bass and choppy rhythm. Segall seems to be enjoying his Frequency Analyzer quite a bit on this track, too. The one-two punch of “Breakfast Eggs” and “Diversion” are a great mid-album treat, with some great grooves and excellent guitar squalor. “Diversion” even sounds a bit like old Queens of the Stone Age, which is always a plus.

At this point the album gets a little long in the tooth, with “Baby Big Man(I Want A Mommy)”, which sounds like the Flaming Lips on lo-fidelity mode. “Mandy Cream” isn’t bad, but it sounds kind of same-y. “Candy Sam” sounds like leftovers, while “W.U.O.T.U.S” seems completely unnecessary. A static-y walk through songs we’ve heard previously, but done up all “Revolution No.9”-like. This isn’t the kind of thing you waste album real estate up with when you’re putting out a 30 minute LP. Fortunately Ty makes up for that misstep with the bass heavy and pulse-pounding “Magazine”, a great song and a great way to end the Ty Segall show on.

Emotional Mugger will please Segall’s die hard fans. It’s got all the usual elements that have given Ty Segall his ravenous fan base. For the most part it’s another fine fuzzy garage rock album from Mr. Segall, with some noisy weirdness thrown in for good measure. I’m hoping Ty gets ambitious again and starts up where Manipulator left off. Until then, Emotional Mugger will do. Listen to it with headphones, kids. Ear candy abounds.

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