Words by Brian Salvatore

Ty Segall isn’t yet 30, and yet synthesizes bits from all over the first 60 years of rock and roll into his music. There are flashes of Syd Barrett, Nuggets, the Elephant Six collective, Daniel Johnston, the Beatles, folk music, and the music of his hometown San Francisco all imbued in Emotional Mugger, Segall’s ninth full length record in the past eight years. This could be said of all of Segall’s records, but this one in particular sounds less like a complete album and more of a collection of odds and ends that fit reasonably well together. There are straight ahead rockers (“Candy Sam”), noisy collages (“W.U.O.T.W.S.”), poppy hooks, fits of distortion, and nothing even remotely sounding the same track to track.

That’s not to say the record is inconsistent – Segall pulls off a really interesting trick, in that he’s able to produce 11 tracks that all hang together, while sounding so unlike one another. Segall doesn’t really have an editor, but thankfully he has paired with a producer who can help his ideas, if not coalesce, at least sit comfortably next to one another. The production, handled by F. Bermudez, manages to tie everything together; the album is certainly in the lo-fi tradition, but that aesthetic doesn’t limit Segall’s ambition at all. “Magazine,” the final cut on the album, is full of handclaps and analog synthesizer drones and squeals, which reach further than some of the other songs on the record, sonically.

The best one-two punch on the record is probably “Breakfast Eggs” into “Diversion,” both of which rank among Segall’s best songs. But honestly, each time I listened to the record, I came out with a new favorite or two – the songs are as strong as anything Segall has ever done in the past, but he seems more free after a few albums where his sound got a bit restrained. There is a joy in the cacophony he produces on Emotional Mugger; perhaps part of that is due to the fact that, if he does what he usually does, his next record won’t sound much like this one at all.

Ty Segall
‘Emotional Mugger’
Drag City
© January 22nd, 2016


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