8/10 comeback kids
Stumbling into the psychedelic netherworld of Toy is nothing if not a giddy thrill – all soaring chunks of garage-rock and post-punk drama fronted by scraggly-haired frontman Tom Dougall, who croons away like a hungover spectre from behind his fringe as the rest of the band disappear into a heavily feedbacked Krautrock clatter.
Emerging all the way back in 2012 on coattails of East London ‘it’ band The Horrors, Brighton quintet TOY (rhymes with Neu!) had pretty much lost sight of the plot by their third impermeable outing “Clear Shot”. Anything but clear, it undid all the groundwork they’d laid down on albums one and two.
Thankfully, they’re back on sparkling form here, delivering some of their best tracks to date. Curtain-raiser “Sequence One” and the hurtling “Energy” revert to the throbbing autobahn basslines of their self-titled debut. Meanwhile, in a subtle deviation from the usual script, “Last Warmth of the Day” and “Mistake a Stranger” add folky picking and a lazy twanging guitar into the mix for a more sophisticated, less 60’s fixated songcraft. Elsewhere, vocal duties are shuffled around, with Dougall stepping back from the mic to let bassist Maxim Barron have a pop on nu-gazey “You Make Me Forget Myself”.
The sound of a recharged and re-energised band, “Happy in the Hollow” shows TOY have found their groove again.
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