Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Live Review: TOY (BidoLito!)

East Village Arts Club
28th February 2014

Whilst two albums in as many years might sound like a recipe for the unspectacular, London based quintet TOY are operating enviously close to the top of the UKs emerging guitar acts this year. Forming from the ashes of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong - a band who managed to garner such unanimous hatred that you have to admire their courage for not moving to another continent altogether – their reinvention into the ambitious, psychedelia leaning band that appears in front of us is certainly interesting, even if it might appear insincere for those on the wrong side of the bed and all that.  

An appearance at Sound City last year is well worth remembering, as they held their own in the eyes of God in the incomprehensibly large Anglican Cathedral to produce one of the standout performances at the festival. Their second album Join The Dots has been released since then though, as they attempt to cross the tenuous gap between UK buzz band and regional festival headliner before their time is up and we all move on with our lives.

The whole thing is intensely stylized, from the clothes and the hair, to the buckets of reverb on the guitar and vocals and the sepia tinged light show behind them. Their commitment to the cause is certainly admirable, at least, barely uttering a word with their collective gazes fixed firmly at the floor throughout the performance. Guitarists Baron and O’Dair share vocalist Tom Dougall’s disinterested deportment, as they work purposefully through the likes of Colours Burning Out and Left Myself Behind so stoically that you’d be forgiven for assuming they’d taken the whole psycedelia thing to literally and were losing their minds on an acid trip.

The line of MBV indebted indie bands is threatening to become a landfill at the moment, as more and more guitarists sync Loveless to their iPods and straighten their shoulder length hair in an attempt to maintain any sort of staying power beyond their Zane Lowe Hottest Record in The World. The problem TOY face is that by tentatively offering these challenging, dense shoe-gaze textures but keeping their musical emphasis on melody, they find themselves nestled awkwardly between feet shuffling art-rock and screaming sixth form girl indie darlings. The contrast between the sprawling, nine minute psych freakouts at the end of Kopter and Fall Out Of Love and the punchy, immediate It’s Been So Long is too vast, castrating their obvious ability with a melody and their striking levels of noise and leaving them awkwardly in the middle. We are shown two sides of TOY tonight, and whilst both might be impressive in their own right, their attempt to distill both of them into a singular entity leaves them coming up short on both fronts.

Mike Townsend

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