This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… TOY October 6, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
Expectations in music are a funny thing. Take UK group TOY for example. Famously the Horrors and TOY are best mates. A worrying sign. Who knows how that will end, but.. listening to them was an odd experience. First up I was trying to assimilate their clear love for all things krautrock and finding it curious that only two tracks on the album were clearly Neu etc influenced. I guess there’s only so much one can do with a motorik beat and at this stage a fair few others have got there first.
And I was beginning to actually dislike the album and then… listening a bit longer I began to clock the fact that rather than them being a sort of extension of the Horror’s album number two – the rather fine Primary Colours dealt with here, they were instead a very different sort of creature.
They are like nothing so much as… well… er… groups like the Church and other neo-psychedelic outfits (particularly those with roots in the 1980s). It’s not an 100 per cent fit, there are curious divergences (though those with long memories will recall that The Church were never behind the door in parading their krautrock influences either to the point of cheekily reproducing the intro to Isi by Neu on their track Essence – go listen to the demo version on YouTube which slows it down a bit), but… it’s there in the guitars, in the mid 1980s indie basslines. It’s even there in the vocals which have a Steve Kilbey like langour – for which read laid back. Though TOY’s lead singer seems to be a rather more intense presence.
There are some lovely melodies, the masterful Make it Mine and the extravagant, somewhat New Order-like, Heart Skips A Beat come to mind. And they’re clearly well able to do the faster than mid-range Indie that some might argue the Pains of Being Pure of Heart have made their own. Lose My Way, the instrumental Drifting Deeper and Colours Running Out in particular. The latter is such a clean take on post-punk that it wouldn’t sound amiss on Chairs Missing. Walk Up To Me is the sort of thing the Church would have no shame calling their own, albeit it is a tad more decorative and pretty than their output. Likewise with Motoring which manages to shoehorn some polite Sonic Youthisms into the mix too.
Listening to it raises the question as to whether it a very good psychedelic inflected album or merely a fairly good indie album. It’s that central dissonance that makes this such an odd experience to listen to and that it happens from track to track makes it more difficult to have a complete sense of the album. But then again the range of sounds and influences here are a strength and not a weakness. Songs bubble along with carefully considered vocals, backing vocals, guitar, bass, drums and synth parts. And if these references to other groups appears to be damning with faint praise they are not intended to be.
Sure, the critics almost uniformly love them, which is also a worrying sign. But of the 13 odd tracks only a few are ones I don’t want to hear again. And those that I do want to hear again I’ve been humming along to for the past week or so. Not bad. Not bad at all. Sometimes even the critics get it right.
Meanwhile expect a guest post from Damian O’Broin in a fortnight in this slot.
Lose My Way
Make It Mine
Colours Running Out
Heart Skips A Beat