Monday, November 25, 2013

Album Review :: TOY - Join The Dots


Join The Dots

December 9 2013 (Heavenly Recordings)


Words: Dave Beech

The first track on the second album from London's TOY is seven minutes given over entirely to an almost sinister ensemble of psychedelic and ominous background whirrs, a relentless hi-hat beat, and abrasive, sporadic guitar work. It's an intimidating introduction for someone who is completely unfamiliar with a band who have always been in my peripheral, but never my focus. As it happens, however, the seven minutes of 'Conductor' prove to be vastly different from what the rest of the album has to offer.

With three out of five members of the ill-fated and terribly named Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong in the band, you could be forgiven for thinking that their music would be of a similar, mid-00s, indie ilk, but that's where you would be wrong. Instead, the second album from TOY builds on much the same foundations as it's predecessor; fusing together psychedelic tendencies with a much more matured blend of indie sensibility that's draped lavishly with a penchant for shoegazing. It's an ambitious record, and one which goes from strength to strength as the album progresses.

An early highlight comes in the form of titular track - and first single release - 'Join the Dots'. The track is an eight minute epic of hazy, melody driven vocals and krautrock inspired synth/bass duality. It's an impressive, if not slightly lengthy, song in which the band's passion for psychedelia is allowed to run riot after the four minute mark. The single version of 'Join the Dots' doesn't find itself is as long as that which is here, and the descent in to psychotropic oblivion, while present, is on a far smaller, more radio-friendly scale.

That aside, while the certainly do have more than a passing appreciation for psychedelia, there are plenty more accessible tracks here too. 'Endlessly' upholds nostalgic, almost twee pop ideals, and gives way to a much more laid-back, dream-pop driven second half of the record that floats towards closing track 'Fall Out of Love' - a further ten minutes of sullen basslines and unusual vocals that are enshrouded in a perpetual drone. Once again the track finds itself slipping into a tripped out breakdown that rattles and floats towards the song's conclusion. It's a much lighter trip this time, benefiting wholly from the lack of oppression such as that featured midway through the aforementioned 'Join the Dots'.

On first hearing TOY, as a band, seemed to be heavily indebted to the sounds of yesteryear, intertwining psychedelic breakdowns with shoegazey vocals and krautrock electro. However, it's the combination of these defining facets that allow the music TOY make to feel completely and utterly of the moment. It may not be a hugely original sound, but not often does psychedelia sound this crisp, this refined. And 'Join the Dots' should act as a testament to a band that, with their second album, have really found their footing and wholly come in to their own.

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