Toy - Happy in the Hollow (Album Review)

Thursday, 31 January 2019 Written by Graeme Marsh

Toy’s third album, 2016’s ‘Clear Shot’, showed that the Brighton quintet had more up their sleeves than homages to their influences, the most obvious of which was Krautrock. Those hypnotic, motorik beats still remained, but there was a more experimental element, one that kept a foot in their past while thrusting another in the direction of dreamy psychedelics that would have been admired by Syd Barrett.

‘Happy in the Hollow’, released through their new label, Tough Love, finds them indulging in more freedom and creative licence. Having brought everything in house, and working without an outside producer, they take things where they want to take them. As a result “it’s an album we feel deeply connected to,” claims bass player Maxim Barron.

Upon first listen, much of the album will float by insignificantly atop a wave of dreamy psych. But the trick here is to persevere. Diehard fans will find footholds in echoes from the past.

The motorik beat of opener Sequence Once is somewhat tempered in comparison to their earlier work, but it can be used as an anchor. An appreciation of its swooning dreaminess and experimental sounds will follow. Melodies, however, don’t stick in the mind for too long.

The frantic percussion of Energy may well provide the breakthrough instead. With spoken word passages dotted among the rampant drums, Toy create a track capable of adorning a new Trainspotting sequel. And, if the band’s lengthy jams of old are what endeared them to you, then try The Willo, where you’ll find a calypso beat developing into a compelling seven minute journey propelled forward by some gorgeous, warm synth chords.

Another highlight, Mechanism, is one that may frustrate the hardcore, though. Bubbly synths promise much alongside another persistent beat, but it also desperately wants to join their lengthy jam portfolio. After a New Order-like melodic snippet becomes entwined in bubbling synths, closer Move Through The Dark is similarly frustrated.

That sense of dreaminess is everywhere. Last Warmth of the Day follows on from the Barrett-esque tendencies of ‘Clear Shot’ as vocals float in and out of the haze, a twanging guitar that sits somewhere between Anton Newcombe and Duane Eddy piercing the cloud. Mistake A Stranger is a slow effort more akin to minimalist psychedelic acts like Proper Ornaments, but You Make Me Forget Myself fares better and comes over like a more ethereal version of the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

‘Happy in the Hollow’ feels like a natural progression from ‘Clear Shot’ although it’s one that will take time to sink in. It could also be argued that, while an outside producer’s absence means the band’s own desires are more focused, the third party contributions that could have elevated this album to greater heights have been missed.

Toy Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed February 13 2019 - BELFAST Empire Music Hall
Thu February 14 2019 - DUBLIN Workmans Club
Fri February 15 2019 - MANCHESTER YES (The Pink Room)
Sat February 16 2019 - GLASGOW King Tuts
Sun February 17 2019 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Tue February 19 2019 - BRIGHTON Patterns
Wed February 20 2019 - LONDON Village Underground

Click here to compare & buy Toy Tickets at Stereoboard.com.





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