TOY

Toy

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

After hearing TOY's self-titled debut, it's not surprising that the band has ties to S.C.U.M. and especially the Horrors, since at several points this album sounds like a rougher version of that band's breakthrough, Primary Colours. All three of these groups mix shoegaze, Krautrock, and psych-rock in a hypnotically swirled blend, but TOY sounds like the scrappier kid brothers and sisters to those more established bands -- in a good way, mostly. At their best, TOY churn out trippy yet aerodynamic rock like the previous single "Colours Running Out," which, with its zooming guitars and putdown lyrics like "I'm all you ever talk about," has the kind of snotty attitude that launched many a garage/psych-punk hit back in the '60s. "Dead & Gone" is another too-cool-for-school winner that chugs along on a subtle motorik groove before heading for the stratosphere. Interestingly, unlike many of their contemporaries, TOY do expansive jams like the ten-minute album closer, "Kopter," really well, and perhaps even better than their attempts at concise pop songs. Too often on TOY, it feels like the band is trying to fit into a more straightforward mold than catering to their strengths: softer songs such as "My Heart Skips a Beat" show that they're not as convincing at vulnerability as they are at being cool, although "The Reasons Why" does capture the more languorous, going blank again side of shoegaze. The meandering "Walk Up to Me" and "Drifting Deeper" aren't as immediate as TOY's driving songs or as interesting as their more experimental ones, like the aptly named "Strange," a bit of dark, post-punk trippiness that suggests Chairs Missing-era Wire with an emphasis on the whammy bar. Several of TOY's best moments happen when the band manages to balance all its conflicting impulses, as on the equally weird and catchy "Make It Mine" or "Motoring," another previous single that captures the energy of the group's more expansive tracks in a more traditional structure without feeling too constrained. Ultimately, TOY is a portrait of a band at a crossroads: TOY can either pursue the more accessible but less interesting direction of their ballads, or dive deeper into the wilder fringes of their music. While they need to focus more, there's enough potential here to ensure that there's plenty to choose from.

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