TOY have always been one of those bands, that I’m aware of their presence and even their talent, but have always stayed away from and for nothing more than personal reasons. To me, TOY are the kings of the hipster psych movement, and I’ve turned my back on them multiple times, only due to their connection with some of the more pretentious fans. It seems you’re only allowed to be a fan of the band if you’re wearing the right amount of denim, have hair with more volume than a 60 inch subwoofer and stand around in Shoreditch bars, staring at your own feet and repeating the words Brian Jonestown Massacre over and over again.
They have always intrigued me however and something inside has made me want to plunge head first into them and hope I come out the other end with enough love to forget all that aforementioned nonsense and just enjoy, what we should all essentially be in it for, the music. This has never happened, despite having them committed to set lists for our Transmission indie night. So when I saw that in 2016 and a gap of three years, they would be releasing a new record, maybe now would be the time. Is it?
Well, everything I did already know about them is here and present on the new tracks, a whimsical, effortless vocal, layered over an indie-esque rhythm guitar throwing back to 60’s psych and garage in parts especially when singling out a track like ‘I’m Still Believing’, It’s pretty stripped back, but with a wonderful synth featuring throughout, keeping the word psychedelic at the forefront of your mind. It’s catchy enough but pushing the pop music idea aside and avoiding becoming overly accessible. It throws back obviously to bands like the Cure and Joy Division which I’d have no doubt remain influences. Title track ‘Clear Shot’ opens the album and does it with an endearing subtlety and a Beatles-esque sound, before bursting into a frantic, up tempo rush of classic indie guitars and a driving drum beat. My attentions caught. Oh no, go get my jean jacket quick! ‘Another Dimension’ provides exactly what is expected from the name, it’s other worldly and, here we go again, psychedelic, with the keyboards taking centre stage on this one. I’m enjoying this so far…
The theme remains throughout, some tracks even seem a bit samey, but I have no issue with this where normally I’d blame a lack of diversity, range or originality. There’s a concept here without it being a concept album, and it’s moody throughout with only the slightest glimmers of happy, shiny, pop ideology, but again, I don’t mind this as you know what you’re getting into. Even as a non/new fan, I was never going to be throwing TOY on at my nephews birthday party or having it as part of a wedding disco set (Mojo20 are not available for wedding disco sets). You know what you came for and you know what you’ll get and as mentioned at the beginning, TOY might just be the kings of moody, contemporary psych and I believe that to be as true as I thought it to be, before hearing this album. I also enjoy the reflection on bands such as The Strokes, The Libertines, The Beatles, The Cure and Joy Division amongst more. It drives us back to a time when indie was more edgy and before bands like Catfish and the Bottlemen and Bastille were the head names in a saturated and diluted genre that we all used to love. Aside from the poser-ish nature of bands like this, where half the substance seems to go into the haircuts, the mardy looking “natural” photographs and the cliquey, subculture-esque feel of the fan base, the music is good, very good.
Ok TOY, you win this round. Well done
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)