At this point in his career the only thing more wild than Ty Segall’s output, this being Segall’s 16th album in eight years, are the touring personas he has adopted for his new album, “Emotional Mugger.”
Segall keeps in character throughout all his performances, whether it be on NPR, where he adamantly refuses to break character and answer questions with utter nonsense, or The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where Segall’s face-painted candy-tossing antics clearly leave the crowd on edge.
Of course, the seeming insanity all serves a purpose as Segall has decided to avoid all publicity. He staves off interviews and photos on this tour with the help of various masks, hoods and face paint befitting the characters of the album’s respective songs.
Perhaps tired of the media circus that accompanies any album release, Segall instead allows his live performances speak for themselves. Here, he is willingly aided by his backing band The Muggers in his various antics, the band includes guitarist King Tuff and the drummer for the band WAND, Evan Burrows, among others.
Segall’s garage-rock album “Emotional Mugger” is the perfect platform for these antics.
Produced by Segall and F. Burmudez, the album’s 11 tracks maintain the lo-fi aesthetic of Segall’s previous work with everything from Segall’s voice, saturated with delay, to the heavy distortion of each guitar.
The album opens with its strongest track, “Squealer,” which featured a strong bassline and melody combination that carrier the track into the grimy “California Hills.” This next track feels intentionally monotonous as Segall drags on about “affluent life” before a jarring tempo change that dips out as quickly as it came in.
The album’s title track “Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess” follows and ends up setting a good example for the album’s mixing. The instrumentation here is well spaced out allowing for heavy distortion of the guitars, panned to the left and right sides, and for the placement of the drums to move throughout the song.
The placement of the instruments essentially follows this formula throughout the album to mixed results. For example, the song “Breakfast Eggs” plays with the left and right panned guitars with the left guitar cutting in and out of harmony with the right.
The most interesting example of playing with the mixing is “Candy Sam” as the song alternates left to right between drum patterns of varying intensity.
But, even with its abrasiveness and constant energy, “Emotional Mugger” can feel a bit rote. Even with its creative mixing songs can become repetitive with some feeling like filler tracks.
“Diversion” is the best example of a low point despite all of its energy. A cover of a song of the same name by the 1960s band The Equals, it feels out of place in every way expect for its subject matter.
“Emotional Mugger” comes to a conclusion with “The Magazine,” it’s a slow song that seems to eventually just die out. At this point it becomes obvious that this album’s fixation with the baby character and the idea of candy might be a larger statement on society from Segall, namely the over-indulgence of ego.
Although not his best work, “Emotional Mugger” is Ty Segall’s most obvious statement on society, and its best songs make up for its shortcomings with the appeal of their abrasive energy.
Emiliano is a DJ with KSSU