Toy | Live Review

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At times Dougall puts a sour twist on his lyrics, the result is a brilliantly futile Joey Ramone meets Jarvis Cocker effect.

Toy describe their sound with one word, miasma; meaning an unwholesome atmosphere, and as they return to Bristol during the mid-week hum of daily life it quickly becomes apparent that this definition has never been more fitting.

There’s a real excitability that stems from the nonchalance of frontman Tom Dougall, obscured behind a weighty fringe he refuses to acknowledge anyone, instead immerses into gradual scape of distortion, frequently dropping to tweak effects pedals. The big change with this visit is that there’s a stunning album number two ready to call upon. 2013’s ‘Join The Dots’ stands up proudly alongside early material, with sounds whimsical and nurturing, it’s natural for a big newie to start proceedings.

‘Conductor’ is the seven minute splurge of an intro, drifting and messy in its approach, but compelling as the five sillouhettes cram the stage. If there’s one thing Toy are proving tonight onboard Thekla, it’s their sense of longevity. A few years ago when we could have (and probably did) lump them amongst the radar acts to look out for, half will have vanished without word, but Toy still clutch every bit of enigma they started out with. This is the kind of show where you want to just close your eyes and soak in every moment. Triumphant melodies emerge amongst the lingering synth sodden jams, with elongated versions of ‘Colours Running Out and ‘Motoring’ acting as the finer examples of this.

At times Dougall puts a sour twist on his lyrics, the result is a brilliantly futile Joey Ramone meets Jarvis Cocker effect. Is it sarcasm? Is it punk? If there’s one thing for sure, it’s jarring. When Toy occasionally get a mid-song silence, there’s a mumble of appreciation, but we’re the ones who should be saying thanks. The bass intro of ‘Kopter’ cuts amongst the setlist with a real purpose and the nine minute release of building thrash continuously grows stronger, evolving from psych to something much heavier, much darker, and probably much more satisfying.

There’s a statement finish with ‘Join The Dots’, the leading single from the new album, it leaves us safe in the knowledge that the future of this band is secure, for as long as they can maintain such murky and climactic live shows then they’ll never die. We want more.

Wrap your ears around a bit of ‘Motoring’ right here: