I like this album. I don’t care how derivative it is, I don’t care how many other alt-rock artists it is possible to detect. I like this album because of the shoegazed guitars, subtle synthesiser bits and the romantic euphoria that TOY instills.
The first song ‘Colour’s Running Out’ is mesmerisingly beautiful. The shifts in rhythm and pace, the unpredictability of melody, the abstract image of someone running out of colour (which I took to be some kind of comment on morality) – all buried and maintained under lots of gauzey guitars. Perhaps the most surprising element of this album is the sheer profligacy of pop songs – that is, the use of the typically pop song structure of verse-chorus-verse-chorus. For all the allusions to krautrock and that whole 70s German thing, this seems to countermand what the likes of Neu! and Can wanted to do with music: to remove any lingering trace of what could be identified as a ‘song’. TOY do achieve that on the lengthy psychey formless tracks (in a good way) ‘Dead And Gone’ and ‘Kopter’, which sustain the drama with steady midtempo percussion before ascending into pulsey prog-like jams.
The single ‘Motoring’ is another highlight – with its darkly experimental flourishes and echoey vocal qualities – as is ‘Lose My Way’ which boasts another warm, moist chorus that catches anybody who might have been thrown by ‘Dead And Gone’. Synthesiser-ist Alejandra Diez (which my rusty Spanish translates as Alexandra Ten) gets to show off on ‘Strange’, a morbidly sinister number that echoes Simple Minds at their Reel To Real coolest as does the more experimental one minute twenty seven second filler ‘Omni’.
It’s difficult to fully comprehend how strangely diverse this album is. At one end of the TOY spectrum rests the sappy ‘My Heart Skips A Beat’ and at the other, the exceptionally sexy instrumental ‘Drifting Deeper’, which is the sonic equivalent of descending though Dante’s nine levels. This odd marriage of accessibility and opaqueness sits ill sometimes but, to be fair, this is a debut album – no one can say that their buddies The Horrors weren’t finding their sound on their manic debut. If TOY’s third album is as marvellously accomplished as the former’s Skying is, then we are lucky indeed.
TOY comes out on the 10th September on Heavenly Recordings. The new single ‘Lose My Way’ is released on 3rd September on the same label. The band’s UK headline tour runs as follows:
Fri 19 Oct Sheffied, Plug
Sat 20 Oct Birmingham, HMV Temple
Tues 23 Oct Norwich, Waterfront Studio
Wed 24 Oct London, Heaven – The Fly presents show…
Thurs 25 Oct Southampton, Talking Heads
Sat 27 Oct Brighton, Green Door Store
Sun 28 Oct Manchester, Ruby Lounge
Mon 29 Oct Newcastle, Cluny
Tues 30 Oct Glasgow, Sleazy’s
By Barney Horner
Dance Yrself Clean