Trying to stain the merits of TOY by comparing them to their admirers The Horrors doesn't count; most of all because the latter, apart from other things, are a rehash of past glories. A copy of a copy, or a suspicious kind of revival, what's important about TOY is that they have magnificent songs and that they are - yes, let's say it out loud - the best thing that could happen to the sleepy British scene right now. A clash of messy pop that has the musical tabloids in the UK in uproar, as if they had discovered the British answer to Deerhunter. This is a band who have all the cards to win the game, because of their creative skills, and, more indirectly, because of their ability to put a stop to the American monopoly imposed on the world by that deus ex machina called Pitchfork. As well as being approved according to that double standard, or by NME; TOY have made a smart and solid album. An album that was much needed.
Listening to the album awakens something that is similar to the fever with which we, years ago, used to receive the records from the Creation label. “TOY” is coming from another legendary house, Heavenly, but in spite of these origins, and the band name, don't expect any innocent sounds here. The design, however, has something of an enema. Remember that three of the band's five members already experienced how bitter success can be, back in 2008, when their group Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong got stuck on the threshold of fame when their first album wasn't released, due to the credit crunch. Maybe, because of that, there is meditated rage in this second attack, the same whiff of vengeance that was on last year's glorious single “Left Myself Behind”, which, surprisingly enough, isn't included on this album.
Recorded with Dan Carey at the helm, “TOY” is easily imaginable on paper (psychedelic whirlwinds infested with post-punk and Kraut-rock, in general terms), but its massive dimensions give the record a defying power. On the inside, it advances as if going through a storm, riding out the different stages one by one, battling against the blizzard. When they get to “Dead & Gone”, seven exhausting minutes placed almost at the start, like a barrier to overcome, you can already feel the storm whipping. Flashes of My Bloody Valentine enter through the windows, and in the distance you can make out some epic ruffles in pure Ride style. Irate Moogs come and go, grey melodies in the vein of Echo & the Bunnymen sound, grime scratched from second-hand equipment, and metronomic rhythms that sound like Neu! sniffing out Can. It's a premeditated combination of darkness and white noise, of romanticism and violence. A mix that hints at many hours of listening to Sonic Youth ( “Lose My Way”), at times reminiscent of Weekend's “Sports” from a few years back.
“We want the opposite to everything that’s being made by guitar bands at the moment, really. We’re looking to make a record that really interests us.” Well bend me over and call me Sharon if we haven't heard that a thousand times before. Yes, it stinks of promotional gibberish, but at the same time, something in the rich amalgamation of sounds on this record tells us Tom Dougall is right. Something that explodes at the end, with “Kopter”, like an incendiary manifesto; something that, in the instrumental “Drifting Deeper”, picks up part of the magic of Quickspace; something that lightens the weight of the repertoire when necessary, by injecting sweet songs like “My Heart Skips A Beat” and “Walk Up To Me”. In eleven long tracks (none of which are superfluous) and one interlude, “TOY” registers an audacious range of sounds. Now they have to prove it on stage.