Review: Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger (2016)

Our Rating

8

Ty Segall has had another beautiful baby in album form – this time without a mommy, apparently.  An abrasively noisey baby with a lot to say, Emotional Mugger is possibly the most unique of Segall’s releases to date.  While it may lack the accessibility seen in previous albums, such as Manipulator and Melted, it bleeds authenticity.  He proves once again that he makes music for his own purposes, and remains detached from the binds of the media and society.

Segall first released this album by mailing it out on VHS tapes to music journalists, which also featured an informational video he made explaining what “emotional mugging” really is.  “[Emotional mugging is] the over-communication relayed in cell based technology and content driven media further detaches passengers of our modern society from deep emotional understanding.”

Emotional Mugger not only makes a huge musical statement, but also an equally strong social statement.  The metaphor of candy representing instant gratification is evident throughout the album, and Segall urges the listener to think about the way we are losing emotional connection because of the overly available flow of knowledge and quick pleasure on the internet and in media.  The lyrics of “Breakfast Eggs,” for example, talk about how the media steals the attention of youth, making them care about meaningless things for instant gratification rather than more important things like war.

Segall also released a 14-minute music video that combines alternate versions of all the songs on Emotional Mugger.  He is featured wandering the streets of Los Angeles, encountering racist police brutality, prostitution, and drug use.  He remains emotionless throughout the video, and as time goes on his face slowly begins to decay until he is left looking like a monster.  He’s been mugged of his emotional reactions due to the over-communication our digital society is experiencing.

Emotional Mugger shows that Segall is separating himself from societal expectations that may have restrained him musically in the past.  He’s always had a distinctive sound and has countless solid releases to his name, which may be why he felt comfortable going for something a little weirder, which is not to say that Emotional Mugger lacks strong familiar-sounding tracks. This album has a fuzzy, erratic element reminiscent of his earliest releases, like his 2008 self-titled album.  Just as his cover of The Equal’s “Diversion” explains, he had a diversion but is now back, in his truest, most uncontrolled form.  Given his extensive list of 2015 releases, it’s unlikely that Segall will keep us waiting much longer for another, possibly more unhinged reveal. Best Tracks: “Squealer”, “Breakfast Eggs”, “Diversion”, and “Candy Sam.”

Thoughts?