The eponymous first album by Toy has been around for a few months now and has appeared in most of the ‘top albums’ of the year lists, in music magazines and newspapers. Being a sucker for good guitar bands, for me, this really was one of the top five albums of 2012. Over the years, bands such as Black Sabbath, Derek and the Dominos (‘Layla’), Television (‘Marquee Moon’) and Pixies (‘Surfer Rosa’) have established themselves largely on the strength of their innovative and unique guitar sounds (although other factors such as having good songs have obviously also helped!). It seems to me that Toy are another band who are doing just that. I haven’t heard another rock outfit that sounds anything like them.
Essentially they are a guitar band, making extensive use of electronic effects, repetition and drone. The album has a cross-over appeal that will please enthusiasts of both guitar and electronic music. Toy have obviously had access to a large record collection in honing their style. Obvious influences include psychedelia and krautrock. The highlights of the album are lengthy work-outs, with catchy riffs, like the splendid ‘Dead and Gone’ and ‘Kopter’. Lengthy songs can get rather tedious in less skilful hands, but with Toy you get so wrapped-up in the track that you don’t want it to end.
The album’s appeal is really strengthened by the variety of the material and sounds produced. Beside the lengthy numbers, there are some great shorter songs, demonstrating excellent song-writing (the gorgeous tunes of ‘Lose My Way’ and ‘Heart Skips a Beat’). Songs like ‘Colours Running Out’ also reinvent 1960s psychedelic music in a fresh way. So, an album that is highly recommended without reservation. They’re also a band that are darn good live, so look out for them.
Review by John Bentley