TOY – Join The Dots review

I’m thrilled to say one of the most exciting bands of 2012 are back with a follow up from their debut with Join The Dots. They masterfully combined a garage, shoegaze and neo-psychedelic sound to mould free flowing, rapid and fluctuating music. Mastering the fine line between the extended and drawn out sounds and slick and hook filled music. There is always a sense of controlled chaos about their music that is brought together by the vocals of Tom Dougall. His lower pitch yet smooth vocal style sits on a different level from the instrumentals and at times acting as the foundation of a lot of their songs. All in all, it was a debut that was hard to fault and gives them a task with Join The Dots.

The title track starts of with the central rotating riff and is joined by the bass while several sounds and synth chords subtly spill off it. The reverbing rhythm guitar then kicks in along with the percussion and intermittent synth chords that are pulled together by Tom’s vocal that’s isolated from the rest of the music and slightly dulled over in the way its recorded so as not to crowd out the other elements either. The lengthy song has some laser-like lead solos and whirring and repeating synths that are all tied up to the bass that churns away underneath it all. The percussion is heavy on the cymbals and that really stretches out the sound and expands the space the song creates but without using the typical heavy echo to achieve it. The slow construction of the sound and it’s lengthy demolition allows for so many other elements and features to play a part too and the song in general is a great example of making a ‘long’ song work in terms of interest and intrigue. Beyond that, their methods in recording and production seem to have gotten stronger and their song structures more complex. ‘Endlessly’ opens with the more out of focus and gentle lapping of the rhythm guitars with the zoned out synths falling in a feather-like fashion on top of it. The vocals are slightly echoed and recorded in a more distant fashion to act as a crossroads or a channel for all the distorted guitars and echoed percussion. A sort of faint light in the gloom. The song’s more contemplative moment fades with that eighties indie riff that slowly develops into a churning wave of melody that’s guided by the bass and is lead back into the chorus. That theme of organised chaos holds true again here, yet it is directed into a more distinguished melody which makes it all the more enjoyable.

‘It’s Been So Long’ has a rapid and more urgent feel about it. The churning of the instrumentals is much more compact and the bass is much of the driving force it isn’t in some of the other tracks and it allows for the light and wavering synths to retreat behind it. After this there is a culmination of cascading rhythm and laser like lead guitar elements. ‘Left To Wander’ has that sort of unconventional melody and tune to it and so forging a darker undercurrent to what is a light hearted chord progression of which the plucky guitar riffs land on to. Tracks like ‘Fall Out of Love’ are wondrous pieces of electronic psychedelica. The Numan-esque synths clashing with the wall of distortion. Join The Dots is certainly a refinement of what they did with their debut. There is more melodic twists and turns of the more peculiar and less transparent. They haven’t really altered their sound to a great degree and there will still be the odd person saying they’ve just took The Beatles and other sixties groups psychedelic and sonic sounds and sped them up. But just considering that feat in itself is quite impressive. If anything TOY have produced much more richer sounding music and utilised further influences along the way so that argument doesn’t really hold steady. If anything they should start to push off in a different direction with their next venture. They have pushed their current sound to it’s peak now and they are more than capable of taking the risk as they are wonderful combiners of sounds. But Join The Dots is a steady improvement nonetheless.

TOY – Join The Dots = 8.5/10

 

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