London singer/guitarist Tom Dougall (younger brother of Rose Elinor Dougall of The Pipettes) formed the band TOY in 2010 with Dominic O’Dair (guitar), Maxim “Panda” Barron (bass), Charlie Salvidge (drums), and Spanish keyboard player Alejandra Diez. Dougall, Barron and O’Dair had previously played together in Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong.
The band’s first live performance was at the Cave Club in London in January 2011. This year they were picked as one of NME’s “100 New Bands You Have to Hear,” with Rhys Webb of The Horrors describing them as “the most exciting band to come out last year,” and “my favourite band for 2012.”
TOY released its self-titled 12-track debut album in October of this year on Heavenly Recordings.
If you already know that you like your music psychedelic, esoteric and techno-phonic, then the opening track “Colours Running Out” will appeal to you. If you have not yet immersed yourself into the mystical world of psychedelic krautrock, then this will be the the band that will take you to that new place. The frantically hypnotic, brightly dyed sounds contained in this song will enchant and bewilder you. The sparkling guitars and their accompanying percussive loops create vortices of inky darkness, freeing the listener’s mind.
Track 2’s “TheReasons Why” kicks off like a cheesy ’70s ballad. But that is before the bucolic groaning of the verse wallows into view. Cloudy textures add a smear of oily perspiration to the overall tones. This track ends up being spotless, with a sweet cotton candy-pop finish to it.
“Lose My Way” has a fizzy and dizzying spiral of spectral sounds that fuse into the vocals, melding them seamlessly to crystalline chords and choppy percussion. The dreamy voices fizz and spurt forth. This track is a lucid fountain of colors and papery textures.
“Motoring” has that bellowing whale-song imagery found in some of the other tracks. Tinkling guitars create a confusing puzzle of connecting pins. Through this painful jungle, the motorik rhythm drives on impetuously while the insistent vocals chug into view and keep nudging at you for attention. This is a compulsively paced song with an agreeable kick.
“Strange” is flamboyant and disconcerting. A large wave of sounds and images washes over you like a weed-filled tide. This song is starkly juxtaposed with “Make It Mine,” a track that scurries along, nosing its way into your empty places, feeding on your memories, serving as a catalyst for troublesome nostalgia.
The album’s direction changes again with “Walk Up To Me,” an inconsolable, sad mixture of regrets and lost opportunities. These feelings swirl about, kicking up a red dust and creating vapor clouds of hypnotic patterns. The vocals are frosted. The guitars jangle and whine.
Finally, “Kopter”–a near ten-minute track–sounds like something from Pink Floyd’s “Meddle.” An industrial synth rattles along convincingly. The voice remains ethereal, yet focused. This is the most cohesive and progressive song found on the album.
All songs on the self-titled record have a definite British-rock vibe to them, really capturing a mature sound that reinvents elements of the past to make something more pertinent for the present. It will be interesting to see where the band heads in 2013, considering the group’s sound could potentially go in many directions.