Toy - Toy
Those of you with long memories might recall an over hyped London band called Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong who crashed and burned five years ago when their much heralded debut album was scrapped. Three of the ill founded indie band, Tom Dougall, Dominic O'Dair and Maxim Barron, have re-emerged as two thirds of Toy, another much hyped London band. With self-titled debut album Toy about to hit the racks is history about to repeat itself, are the unlucky trio doomed to a life of infamy and crushed dreams or could they be on the verge of the greatest come back since Lazarus threw away his crutches and took up jogging?
Toy sounds like the band have been on a midnight raid of the coolest records in their dad's collection after spending many productive hours researching the influences of their musical friends and mentors the Horrors. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Faris and his cohorts should be sincerely flattered. Along with the obvious similarities to Southend-on-Sea's finest neo psychedelic rockers there are hints of Spacemen 3's cosmic drone, more than a few hints of Ride's epic shoegazing, the occasional nod in the direction of Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order, and the odd direct steal from krautrock pioneers Neu. In lesser hands this could struggle to raise itself above the pastiche, but Toy inject enough youthful exuberance, flair and imagination to get away with it. Where some bands merely regurgitate Toy reinvigorate.
Album opener 'Colour's Running Out' and second track 'The Reasons Why' are four minute shots of pure bliss, catchy, and addictive with just the merest tinge of darkness. A promising start. After the initial couple of relatively short hors d'oeuvres Toy serve up a stunning seven and a half minute main course with the Neu echoing 'Dead & Gone', a jittery, flesh curdling shot of ecstasy to satiate the most jaded of palates. None of this however prepares you for the trippy, mind blowing, perfectly titled instrumental 'Drifting Deeper'. It's the point at which Toy really start to transcend their influences. If Kasabian ditched the dad/lad rock tendencies and embraced their metaphysical side they might come close to delivering something as good as this.
Underneath the dark, mysterious exterior of these too cool for schoolers there beats a heart of pure unadulterated romantics. The lush, opulent 'My Heart Skips A Beat' is four and a half minutes of pure syrup that recalls Echo & The Bunnymen at their most sentimental, or New Order at their most tender. 'Strange' is, as the name suggests, an odd little track. It sounds like The Velvet Underground wrestling with Spaceman 3 with the Clangers on backing vocals. The albums draws to a close with 'Kopter', an ambitious, ten minute long epic which somehow manages to melt all of the bands influences,and at least five different musical genres, into one almighty wig out. It's the final nail in the coffin for those critics who have badged them as little more than the latest in a far too long line of Horrors imitators. 'Kopter' is a genre in it's own right.
The ex members of Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong can sleep easy, Toy is easily a contender for the debut album of the year. It's one of those rare albums that make you want to check out the band's influences in much the same way that Primary Colours probably did for Toy.