When Toy were first scoped by the wider public as handpicked tour support to The Horrors in October 2011, they seemed almost too good to be true. Sallow of complexion and extravagantly hirsute, they resembled five psychedelic love-children spawned from Mick Jagger’s pervy basement in Performance.
They sounded even better: twin feedback guitars with droning echoes of My Bloody Valentine; horizon-fixed motorik beats à la Krautrockers Neu!; a variety of sounds (elegant strings, lunar bloops, etc) from a vintage Korg Delta synth; all topped off with intriguingly downbeat musings from frontman Tom Dougall on romance mislaid, getting wasted and other delights. Less than 12 months later, the four-boy-one-girl quintet from Brighton, now relocated to East London, have accrued enviable media hype, but they fully deliver, with a 58-minute debut bursting with memorable tunes, FX and ideas.
“Colours Running Out” introduces a sound-palette of heavily-treated shoegaze-y guitars, rooted by quietly metronomic drumming and an irresistibly acidic vocal melody. Through the ensuing tracks, the listener is tossed between poppy bliss and trancey disorientation. “Lose My Way” and “My Heart Skips A Beat” verge on a New Order-esque stateliness, bittersweet reflections on love gone wrong couched in beautiful, ineffably catchy music. The eight-minute “Dead & Gone,” by contrast, initially cracks along at a euphoric motorik clip, but soon drifts into vague uncertainty, only to kick back in with redoubled, amps-at-11 glee. “Kopter,” similarly, closes out on a lengthily plotted, but ultimately sky-scraping high.
Though it’s centred around those seemingly opposing poles, Toy somehow adds up to an integrated whole – and an unremittingly thrilling one. It’s a full-tilt lysergic trip whose repercussions remain with you long after its last deafening chords have died out. In a word: invest!