Reviewed on Wednesday June 19
You would never label Toy’s music groundbreaking, but the London five-piece’s krautrock and psych-garage inspired sound has definite accessible appeal. Widely compared to The Horrors – due to their mutual appreciation of 60s garage and thin, pale, androgynous Shoreditch look – their live set was precise and rhythmically taut, neatly demonstrating the potential for similar success.
Playing to a mostly industry audience at the Bulmers Underground event, Toy’s compact nine track set opened with the euphoric ‘Colour’s Running Out’. Lifted off last year’s self-titled record, Tom Dougall’s disengaged vocals worked a treat on the chorus line “it’s not that easy, your colour’s running out,” playing off Dominic O’Dair’s piercing, urgent guitars and Alejandra Diez’s gritty synths.
‘Left Myself Behind’ came next, their first ever single, and its more robust nature showcased the band’s formula of pulsating walls of sound filled with evocative guitars and post-punk percussion that comes to a swirling climax while enmeshed in a sea of mournful keyboard effects.
Observing Toy’s faultless live display, it’s unsurprising that three of the members had previously played together in the short-lived hype band Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong. My personal highlight of the set was the rumbling ‘Dead & Gone’, which began with an ominous bass riff leading into a jagged, angular post-punk track featuring vocals reminiscent of seminal 80s British groups such as Wire and Magazine. The group also paid homage to their sugary 60s pop sensibilities on their latest single, the rather lyrically sappy ‘My Heart Skips a Beat’, which drew a favourable response from the crowd.
Closing with the narcoleptic nine-minute jam ‘Kopter’, the group unleashed wave after wave of reverb and feedback, while creating the unique visual effect of four fringed heads bobbing up and down – seemingly lost yet finding comfort in the fuzzed out noise. It was a dissonant end to the short set as the audience streamed out with ears jarred yet ringing with a smug sense of satisfaction.
BY LARRY LAI