The self-titled ‘TOY’ is an incredibly derivative record, in that it is obviously fuelled by the band’s evidently excellent record collection. ‘Daydream Nation’ most probably takes pride of place on top shelf, closely followed by Neu!’s experimental Krautrock. First single ‘Motoring’ has a distinct whiff of the Sonic Youth about it and Tom Dougall’s gruff, slightly nonchalant approach to vocals owes as much to the likes of Thurston Moore and Nick Cave as it does to modern day shoegazers The Horrors, who with their similarly jutting cheekbones, and slightly silly swishy hair-dos, are regular points of comparison. The sprawling post-rock of My Bloody Valentine is ever-present, hints of Captain Beefheart and the avant-garde rock of Can too. It’s nigh on impossible to listen to this album, in fact, without countless touchstones springing to mind.
Unsurprisingly then, ‘TOY’ has an air of familiarity about it, although more akin to recognising old, well-loved friends along the way rather than the dreaded drone of repetitivity. ‘TOY’ is full of drone, still, but the good sort; stoned, drawn out, ambling grooves that operate to full capacity – impressive when they’re housed within songs that clock in, on the most part, at just over the four-minute mark. The pleasant sense of déjà vu also inevitably stems from the fact that ‘TOY’ showcases some brilliant songwriting, with a clear passion and sensitive handling of the bygone music that it feeds off. First single ‘Motoring’ is a pounding, pyrotechnic post-punk outburst; ‘Dead & Gone’ is another all out success in the tradition of ‘Teenage Riot’ (to use yet another alt-rock reference) with an instantly memorable tune. There’s an effortless simplicity and grittiness running throughout that makes ‘TOY’ likeable indeed.
This complex concoction of psychedelia would be difficult to swallow if it felt like an evil scheming industry type had just swiped up everything remotely alternative from HMV and chucked it down a giant metal chute labeled ‘Next Buzzband’. It would also be borderline offensive if TOY had made utter cobblers of it all – they are, after all, feeding off bands far more dear and beloved to us than Razorlight, I suspect. Imitation can be an incredibly boring thing if it seems at all contrived, but thankfully TOY seem as if they genuinely live and breathe komische post-punk. What ‘TOY’ lacks in originality, it more than makes up for with an incredibly rich dot-to-dot of psychedelia laced musical education, and this album is, to coin an awful new musical genre, Nu-new-wave at its very best.
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