Ty Segall‘s most recent album, Emotional Mugger, opens with a city rat soundtrack; footsteps in the hall, the jangle of keys, urban white noise going on beyond the front door. This is the beginning of “Squealer,” the first of eleven tracks on the record. The song is abrupt, compressing chords into rhythmic blocks, then turning around and unraveling them into utterly different structures, revealing methodical contrast. The twinkle sprinkled into and over the body of the song is like the theme song of an arcade game; a little taunting, inviting you to play with a hook of the pointer finger, a cunning whistle and a slight curl of the lips. As the instrumentals dip and soar, Ty’s vocals follow suit, his voice hanging on like a skater skitching on the bumper of a van full of gypsies. “I feel it. I see it. Do you believe it?” “Squealer” is simultaneously an affirmation and a questioning, a pairing that blends into a riveting first impression.
“California Hills” is just as saturnine, alternating between hazy, sauntering slow-mo, and pogo-worthy acceleration. “American nightmare, guilted generation,” spits Ty, putting his own mic-shaped dent into the spanking clean silver walls that line the American future. The song, psychedelic and sarcastic, goes out to the west, and, anyone who let their life depend on its honey-soaked promise. “The Magazine” marks the end of the album, and Ty, his voice, and his being practically reverberate throughout the track, bass buzzing, drums heavy and smooth. Guitar goes crazy, faux claps echo in a sonic tunnel. “My little queen,” croons Segall, as the song dwindles, fizzles, appears to break, only to bounce back, swaddled in cacophonous harmony, where it is comfortable.
Characterized by its fluctuation, Ty Segall’s Emotional Mugger is, in fact, a heist, taking preconceived notions of rhythmic structure and torturing the juice out of them, resulting in a freshly chilled cocktail of seasoned experimentation. It takes some digestion, but it’s sure to feed your acids well.