Long a fixture on the Manila nightclub scene, Philippine group Toy Symphony has released its first album ever, Toy Symphony, which appears on powerhouse local independent Viva Records. In a live setting, Toy Symphony plays Western covers, and the band is exciting and vibrant. Recording an album, however, is different than playing note-for-note renditions of Western hits. Here, Toy Symphony falls short. The music of Toy Symphony is dominated by a slow, soulful sound, and in this type of setting, it is important that the songs be distinctive and not get lost in the dominant slow setting. However, the songs, which are composed by members of the band, too often blur into one another and become tedious. Even a decent ballad such as "Seated" is easy to overlook. Although three songs are upbeat, it's not enough to overcome the dullness of the ballads. It might help if the upbeat songs were placed more strategically: The first two upbeat songs, for example, come at the end of the cassette's first side, and by that time a listener is already nodding off. Still, even a change of song order wouldn't be enough to save the entire album. Of the upbeat songs, the best is "Lifeline," which probably should have started the album. However, the Philippines craves love songs, and perhaps the label thought it best to give the audience what it probably wants first.
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