There are endless reasons why Toy are the most essential rock act in the UK right now, what, you want me to back this shit up?
For too many years now we’ve had to put up with the insipid musings of careerist pop dickheads masquerading under the name of indie. Chris Martin, fondue-face from Keane, the tight jeaned creeps of Kings of Leon and if Johnny Borrell is still stinking up studios with his brand of indie shit – him too. On the other side of the scale there’s the cardigan clad nice haired boy pop of Johnny toff-breath and his mates in Mumford and yawns and Noah and th…sorry, lost the will to live there for a second….
There are a bunch of brilliant guitar acts bubbling under the radar of many who are way more worthy of the attention they receive, Still Corners, O Children, Carousels, Tamaryn, Dead Mellotron, Yeti Lane, put Toy on this list already.
They’ve already paid their dues by being stung once by the music industry by three of them being part of the heavily hyped act Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong. They’ve taken the bits they enjoyed during that time which by the sounds of it is very little and regrouped bringing with them an exceptional drummer and a bunch of classic keyboards and given themselves an impossibly indie band name.
The first thing to note is that they look brilliant on stage and in photographs; it’s been a long time since a band could look cool (Blur 1993, The Strokes 2002) in every single photograph without any effort. It's all cheekbones, hips n hair with these guys, bassist Maxim Barron (obviously hiding a name like Ian or Keith) has three different haircuts rolled into one, he is the only person in the world who has seen pictures of Dave Hill and thought ‘that’s a good look’.
Also these guys are so skinny that if you dropped a twix stick in front of them all 5 would jostle for a piece and they pull off the face like a slapped arse look with aplomb, if you told them a joke that they found funny, you wouldn’t be able to tell as they’re more likely to look at you with disappointment before walking away…..in black.
Their recent headline gig at Proud Galleries in Camden was only my second experience of them live, the first being at Camden Crawl a couple of months prior and the progression in such a short amount of time is remarkable, becoming the support act of choice for The Horrors has meant exposure to much bigger audiences, better venues and better equipment, this has naturally resulted in a better band.
The slower numbers on their forthcoming near perfect debut album (released in September) such as ‘Lose my way’ are spat out live and harder edged numbers like the jaw dropping ‘Left myself behind’ pound just as hard as Josh Homme. That track and ‘Bright white shimmering sun’; the first song they wrote together, are Toy at their most accessible, so in a classic act of indie truculence, neither appear on the album. This is a brave move as the assumption by their fans is that this would be the showpiece of the album, instead it’s dumped on the b-side of their forthcoming single – (add a New Order putting their best songs on b-sides cliché here, readers).
The most striking aspect of their live performance is the dynamic between lead singer Tom Dougall and lead guitarist Dominic O’Dair. Dougall pulls off those classic uncomfortable indie lead singer moves, the vacant stare across the crowd with the occasional look of shock of having people look at him. O’ Dair is the perfect foil for Dougall’s uneasy introverted manner, he’s not only a fantastic guitarist (as is Dougall) but is also one who’s encapsulating to watch. Massive, flailing blonde hair, gurning lips and boyish Brian Jones looks with burgeoning guitar hero moves of someone who treats his instrument with equal love and disdain.
Some people say they’re depressing, no way. They have some of the most joyful tracks out there, it’s just delivered with a straight faced so you have to work a little bit to find it. Granted, it’s the kind of greyed out joy you find in the work of The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys and New Order but it’s infinitely more genuine than the kind of Nicki Minaj record company enforced smiling musical porn that’s getting peddled to kids these days, this is multi-faceted complex shit we’re talking about here, not some silly bint with the latest producers and big tits.
The word krautrock is continually attached to Toy, they are not krautrock, they’re a pop band with loud but feminine reference points, the feminine aspect coming from the swirling sounds of Spanish synth siren Alejandra Diez, a member of the band whose importance to the overall sound cannot be over-estimated.
The nearest nod to krautrock is the relentless beat of their faster songs but that’s due to the immense drumming of Charlie Salvidge. Yeah there may be a bit of Hawkwind and Neu! in there along with the more primitive parts of Kraftwerk’s early back catalogue, with elements of electronica lurking as influences but this is by the by.
If like me you have listened to either Ride, Swervedriver, My Bloody Valentine or the Mary Chain at least once a week for the last twenty years then you will see that Toy listen to the same things that we do and present it to us on stage and in vinyl form. The closing song to their live show and debut album is a ten minute classic in waiting called ‘Kopte’. 145 bpms of furious psychedelia works itself into a breakdown of slashing white noise and gloriously uplifting synths, its glimmering beauty induces waves of compulsory euphoria.
Live this track has the band trancing out and losing themselves so much that it will only take one unexpected move and every single instrument on the stage will be smashed to smithereens and it’s the feeling of not knowing when that will be that makes the song even more thrilling.
This is a TOY you will never become tired of.
By Chris Todd
TOY announce details of new single & album cover
Single, ‘Lose My Way’ released 17 September
Album, ‘TOY’ released 10 September
heavenlyrecordings.com | facebook.com/toy.band | toy-band.com | @thebandtoy
TOY have announced details of the release of a new single. Lose My Way will be released through Heavenly Recordings on Monday 17th September 2012.
Lose My Way is taken from their forthcoming self-titled debut album which is released on 10th September.
The single, released as a 7”, features the B-Side Bright White Shimmering Sun, a live favourite which does not appear on the album.
Both tracks were recorded during the spring of 2012 with Dan Carey in his South London studio as part of the album sessions.
Toy played a 4-week residency at the Shacklewell Arms in London in January, and their U.K. headline tour in April culminated in a sold-out show at London’s XOYO.
They recently played at this year’s Field Day Festival, supported Primal Scream on a number of Scottish dates and are set to play further festival dates over the summer as well as another headline U.K. tour in the autumn following the release of the album.
The current list of live shows is as follows:
14th Southwold Latitude Festival
17th London White Heat @ Madame Jo Jo’s
21st St. Germans Port Eliot Festival
22nd Sheffield Tramlines Festival
28th Kendal Kendal Calling Festival
4th Standon Standon Calling
5th Stockton Stockton Weekender
17th Brecon Green Man festival
24th Leeds Leeds Festival
26th Reading Reading Festival
1st Salisbury End of the Road Festival
9th Isle of Wight Bestival
16th Portmeirion Festival No.6
TOY are: Tom Dougall (vocals / guitar), Dominic O’Dair (guitars), Maxim Barron (bass / vocals), Alejandra Diez (synths / modulations) & Charlie Salvidge (drums / vocals).