18th November | Exchange
A shower of red and blue light saturates the room at The Exchange tonight, creating a suitable ambience for the moody but highly reputable Heavenly signed psychedelic-rock act TOY. Having released their latest LP Clear Shot last month, this is the first show to kick off their UK and European tour due to finish early December.
The band open with punchy and perhaps the most pop derived track on the album, ‘I’m Still Believing’, leading into what sounds like a hymn to The Horror’s ‘Fall Out Of Love’. One thing that strikes me from the get go, is they are taking a while to find their feet, often silent mouthing or signalling to the sound engineer to adjust the volumes or sounds. They don’t seem to be able to slip comfortably into their own shoes, although the crowd seem unfazed.
Having enjoyed seeing them perform previously over the years, I am conscious of the fact that the occasional off-key vocals as well as the “Ohh’s” and “Ahh’s” present in the backing vocals heard in ‘Another Dimension’ sound distressed, and may not actually be a reflection on the band themselves, but rather a bad luck card drawn on the technical difficulties front.
However, the band move swiftly on despite the sound issues, determined that this will not defeat, ‘Fast Silver’ – which showcases choppy shimmering guitars and a smooth vintage organ, creating nostalgia of the late sixties decade and whispers from a Syd Barrett fronted Pink Floyd. Lead singer Tom Dougall’s clever dark lyrical style “When you listen to its quiet glow, a tight feeling in the chest that never goes” will pull on your heartstrings. Tom’s effortlessly cool and quite half spoken vocal brings similarities to the melancholic side of Jarvis Cocker from Pulp.
Their new sound comparing to previous releases, including their self titled debut and Join The Dots is perhaps braver with more complexities involved if we look back to the effective but repetitive Krautrock outfit used prior. There is a new sophistication and layering in melodies and instrumentals, time signatures jumping in and out, vocals that were once more minimal with longer interludes of bashing guitars in three-chord sequences.
TOY have proved that are capable of more, on the record they are seamless and untouchable, although for me, I’ve not fallen out of love, but this sadly didn’t come across on their live performance tonight.
Have a listen to ‘Fast Silver’ below.