TOY – Toy (Heavenly)

Those with long, long memories might recall the tale of Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong. The band were an indie/powerpop group from around 2008, who recorded their debut album, sent out promos, and then decided ‘it didn’t represent their current sound’ before scrapping the whole thing. Before they could finish completely re-recording the new version they were dumped by their record label and so the album never saw the light of day. I managed to grab a copy before they all disappeared and to me it sounds absolutely fine, but the band have become a by-word for bad timing ever since. Fast-forward thirteen years and three of the band’s members have picked up a couple of like-minded mates and have re-invented themselves as Toy, and having ditched the jangly power-pop they are now peddling a kind of indie-Krautrock crossed with The Horrors. ‘Colours Running Out’ sets out their stall from the off, with a distinctive Krautrock beat and a goth vocal that Faris Badwan would be proud of. Droning synths and a catchy tune all go to make this a perfect introduction to the band’s sound. ‘The Reasons Why’ is a swooning ballad where the sheets of guitar bring to mind MBV at their height, and yet there is still a great tune in there. ‘Dead And Gone’ is where the band really shine, as it is on the longer tracks like this and ‘Kopter’ that they really show what they can do, and at nearly eight minutes this is a great showcase. The motorik beat underpins the song with a steady rhythm and after a brief verse and chorus, singer Tom Dougall just tosses in the odd sentence here and here while the rest of the band jam happily in classic Krautrock style. ‘Drifting Deeper’ is a great, spacey instrumental, chock full of effects and weird sounds, like the middle eight of Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’ stretched out and given a life of its own. ‘Motoring’ is a none too subtle hint at where they garnered their influences, with a nod to Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ and the motorik beat of a lot of Krautrock. The song itself is another of their melodic yet rhythmic workouts, and leads nicely into the lush sounds of ‘My Heart Skips A Beat’, which is their attempt at a romantic ballad. It’s OK in its own way, but sits uneasily alongside what we have heard so far, and you are urging it to finish so you can hear more of the likes of the kosmic sounds of ‘Strange’ or the dreamy, fuzz-laden ‘Walk Up To Me’. ‘Kopter’ closes the album in grand style, with none of its ten minutes wasted as the band lay down a repetitive groove which they use as a basis for a modern Krautrock classic. Toy did some BBC sessions last year, and despite being there to plug this album, four of the six tracks they recorded were new songs, so it’s worth trying to find them on the net if you end up liking this album as much as I did. Do I see a trend here – first with Beak> and now with Toy – that Krautrock could be making a comeback? I wouldn’t mind a bit as long as the bands involved have a real respect for the genre, and you can tell from their music that Beak> and Toy have just that.

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