The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

REVIEW: TOY – ‘Clear Shot’ (Heavenly / P.I.A.S.)

  • 8/10
    - 8/10


‘Clear Shot’ is TOY’s most refined and, appropriately, clearly produced album yet.

The ‘new wave’ of psychedelia that has emerged in the last five or so years has produced many an average, floppy-haired band that are so shoegaze you actually find yourself gazing at your own shoes and falling asleep. Yet there have equally been those who have restored faith in the genre, pushing it forward into fresh and exciting territory. And Brighton-based quartet TOY have certainly played their part.

Tripping onto the scene in 2011 with single, ‘Left Myself Behind’, shortly followed by a spectacular debut in 2012, TOY have earned their place amongst the likes of Temples, DIIV and good pals The Horrors. With three out of five members coming straight from the now defunct Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong (and thinking of a less ridiculous band name in the process), TOY channel a more indie rock sort of psychedelia. Creating sharp and enjoyable melodies as well as dabbling with the experimental, they’re more accessible (and frankly easier to listen to) than some of their contemporaries.

After a succession of singles this year, TOY return with latest offering, Clear Shot – and what a return it is. Although sticking to their psychedelia-for-the-common-man blueprint, it nonetheless sees the band getting deeper and even a little bit darker. Much like their previous albums, the opening title track holds nothing back, letting you know what kind of a ride you’re in for. A jangling guitar sequence layered with Tom Dougall’s nonchalant vocals combine perfectly to give everything you’d ever want from a TOY track. But keeping us on our toes, next track ‘Another Dimension’ takes a completely different approach, with it’s “oo”s and “ahh”s coming on like some kind of Stone Roses stadium anthem. Although they’ve chucked some tempo changes and fuzzy guitar in there, it just feels slightly limp compared to the more epic and complex moments that can be found elsewhere on Clear Shot.

After apparently nodding to Madchester, ‘Fast Silver’ gets things back on the psychedelic track, conjuring up an atmosphere reminiscent of The Doors’ ‘Riders On The Storm’ and strolling nicely along until the heavier ‘Jungle Games’. This sees TOY at their most moody, distorted vocals and all. From some other similar band, a song like this could easily continue self-indulging for a further three or four minutes. Yet what makes TOY so refreshing is their ability to know when to stop, resulting in tracks that feel just right.

Although not released as a single, album highlight is surely the euphoric ‘Dream Orchestrator’. Pummelling in with an infectious drum beat, when Dougall claims that he’s “gonna orchestrate your dreams”, you’re left hanging on his every word. Given the magnitude of this track, ‘We Will Disperse’ and ‘Spirits Don’t Lie’ that follow fall a little redundant, appearing to act merely as fillers until final track ‘Cinema’, which is indeed, cinematic. As is evident from their previous two albums, TOY love a lengthy and dramatic closer. ‘Cinema’ is exactly that, building to a grumbling and triumphant climax. But again, they don’t over-do it, leaving you satisfied but at the same time wanting to listen to it all over again.

Despite its occasional deviations, Clear Shot is undoubtedly a psychedelic record, and it’s perhaps TOY’s most refined and (aptly) clear yet. Although some tracks can feel a little weak in isolation, they mesh together to give an overall effect that is truly hypnotic. (8/10) (Alice Williams)

Listen to Clear Shot here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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