Toy singer-guitarist Tom Dougall is son of Brighton folkie Alistair and brother of Pipettes/Mark Ronson singer Rose. So clearly music was always a big pull. After one horrendous false start (in the J*ng J*ng J*ng) he’s pulled together a crackpot lineup of talent, including on drums former Happening clubnight DJ Charlie Salvidge. So, is our loss the music world’s gain?
Yes. And a bit of no too. In a world of seemingly fully-formed hyped bands its nicely refreshing to hear a band still finding their feet on record; of raw talent that hasn’t properly coalesced on this LP, but looks likely too soon. And hyped they have been - made out as the cool younger friends of The Horrors by many in the press, it’s made it harder for us as listeners to separate the two bands. Certainly Primary Colours has informed the sound on Toy, as has My Bloody Valentine and early 70s European rock and electronica.
Dougall is unlikely to win favour with Gary Barlow or any of the X-Factor judges for vocal athleticism - his croon is more homeless wounded puppy than in-flight eagle. Still, vocal melodies are not where we’re at with Toy - instead we get sheets of soothing glacial keyboards, bubbling guitars, and a well-honed and frankly quite superb motorik groove from the rhythm section throughout. The result is less dark-psychedelic-krautrock though, and perhaps more gothic-indie-with-flair.
When they’re good they’re very good, as on the excellent ‘Lose My Way’ and ‘My Heart Skips A Beat’. Yet a lot of tracks pass you by without making much of a noise, and for me the songs lack the all-important emotional punch. I’m also disappointed they didn’t include their cracking debut single ‘Leave Myself Behind’. Even so you, our lovely readers, should go buy this album as it’s worthy of some serious listening time. Just don’t expect mind-blowing brilliance and you’ll be well pleased you bothered.