TOY – Toy (Heavenly Recordings)
CD / DL / LP
12 September 2012

TOY have been enjoying hype from critics and fans alike in the build up to the release of their self-titled debut next week. We emerge ourselves in their psychedelic and Krautrock inspired wall of sound to see if they live up to their image…

Since their inception, TOY have retained a close association and friendship with The Horrors, and inevitably critics and musos everywhere have picked up on this and highlighted their musical similarities.

After The Horrors’ damascene conversion to the gods of krautrock and psychedelica, and Skying’s positive critical and commercial reception, the musical landscape has altered and has created a void for bands such as TOY to fill.

Shoegaze, hypnotic rock, kruatrock, call it what you will, is back in fashion, and TOY are at the frontline of this trend.

Their debut album has been a long time in the making. Three of the London based five piece -Tom Dougall (singer), Maxim Barron (bass) and Dominic O’Dair (guitar) – were formerly part of NME’s impossible to pronounce, doomed darlings Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong.

After becoming disillusioned with the direction the group were taking, they broke free and recruited Charlie Salvidge on drums and Alejandra Diez on keyboards and set about crafting a live set.

A month long residency at the Shackwell Arms in London, a headline UK tour and several dates supporting The Horrors later, the band were ready to chronicle their live sound on record.

Early singles ‘Left Myself Behind’ and ‘Motoring’ drew praise from The Guardian and the NME, and helped to cement their status as one of 2012’s buzz-bands. Their debut effort confirms that this status was well deserved. Unlike their ill-fated previous incarnation, thankfully there is some substance behind the spiel.

The album opener ‘Colour’s Running Out’ sets the tone for the rest of the LP. Dark and moody, with swirling guitars and hypnotic keys, this is the kind of record that needs to be played loud, with the lights turned off, preferably with the narcotic of your choice. Again, Horrors comparisons are almost mandatory with the mention of such buzzwords, yet other, less obvious comparisons can be drawn.

Salvidge’s drums owe a heavy debt to Steve Morris of Joy Division and New Order. The album’s finale, ‘Kopter’, showcases the tight, almost robotic feel that Morris made his trademark.

‘Dead and Gone’ sounds like Ride in their Nowhere era peak, and its outro riff is truly infectious. This is a record that has been perfected night after night on the road, and it is not hard to imagine why their live show has become such a trance-inducing, mesmerising experience.

Whilst the record showcases the frenetic, fast-paced riffs that work so well live, it also shows TOY have a melodic, radio friendly side. Recent single ‘Lose My Way’ is a brilliantly crafted pop song at heart, with its wonderfully uplifting keys lighting up the chorus. ‘My Heart Skips A Beat’ is more Horrors like in its synth led groove, and could easily lead them on to great things if picked up on by radio.

All in all, this is an excellent debut from an exciting young band. TOY hit the road again in October, starting in Sheffield on October 19th.

If you enjoy the kind of sonic annihilation offered by My Bloody Valentine, the psychedelic imagery of The Black Angels and frenzied guitar work of Sonic Youth, then this is the band for you.

A late contender for the Mercury Music Prize? Probably not, seeing as though the shortlist is announced two days after TOY’s release. Here’s to 2013.

You can stream Toy’s album from around 11.30am on 3 September on their website. It’s available to download and on physical formats from 12 September.

All words by Andrew Bardsley. You can read more from Andrew on LTW here, follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.

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