Anyone who was wondering if Ty Segall was ever going to deliver another set of raw, scuzzy garage rock after the relatively polished approach of 2013's Sleeper and 2014's Manipulator will be happy (or alarmed) to know Segall is very much in touch with his noisy side on 2016's Emotional Mugger. Segall's guitar is front and center throughout this album, and the lean, buzzy tone of his axe defines these 11 songs as his chugging chords and single-note leads roar past the lo-fi keyboards and assorted electronic noisemakers that punctuate the tracks. The album's melodic sense owes more to vintage glam rock than garage rock roar, but Segall makes the most of his semi-chaotic primitivism here, which ought to agree with anyone who eagerly embraced his early and less-polished work. Emotional Mugger's surfaces are sometimes a bit abrasive, but the melodies demonstrate that Segall's pop sensibilities never stray too far from the surface, and if you're willing to listen through the occasional layers of buzz and howl, you'll find this isn't as far from his more disciplined efforts as you might imagine at first glance. Segall recorded most of Emotional Mugger one-man-band-style, which doubtless informed the album's purposefully grimy attack, but he had the good sense to bring in Melvins' drummer Dale Crover to keep time with an impressive assault on the Equals' "Diversion," a cover that works better in this context than anyone would expect. As Segall's profile has risen in the 2010s, it's a welcome thing that he hasn't diluted his musical vision and is still willing to let his music howl when the spirit moves him, and Emotional Mugger is a stiff shot of raw, cocky joy that hits its target beautifully.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming