You could accuse Ty Segall of having an old-school work ethic – he even circulated early copies of this album on VHS tape. But there’s nothing dusty about him. The San Francisco garage-punk wunderkind flaunts all his frantic energy and wild-eyed humor on Emotional Mugger. It seems to be the twisted tale of two lovers named Mandy Cream and Candy Sam, who are really into any kind of sex that involves filthy squealing noises, which Segall’s guitar is always happy to provide.
Each Segall record showcases a different side of his sound, but he’s always had an affinity for the down and dirty side of Seventies glam-rock – the kind Bowie perfected circa The Man Who Sold The World or Marc Bolan circa T. Rex’s The Slider. So it makes sense he just dropped an excellent album of Bolan covers last fall, inevitably titled Ty Rex. (Righteous version of “Elemental Child.”) Segall’s 2014 Manipulator, probably the best place for dabblers to start, was a scruffy masterwork in the high-glam mode, with grandiose vocals on ballads like “The Singer” and fantastic Bowie-meets-Zep guitar-solo epics like “Feel.” (Not to be confused with “The Feels,” though that one’s great too.)
Emotional Mugger is a nastier street-punk version of his Manipulator approach, with a touch of Royal Trux sleaze in the low-end guitar sludge, running the conceptual gamut from “Squealer” to “Squealer Two.” It even evokes the stoner-metal vibe of his side project Fuzz (where Segall is the drummer), as he proclaims, “Sound the Dionysus bell/Send them all back to hell.” It peaks with “Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess,” where Segall leers his come-ons (“Let’s riiiide all niiiiiight”) over a gutter-blues racket – his guitar sounds like the dying moans of a walrus through a kazoo. Who says romance is dead?