TOY // The Old Market Brighton // 18/02/14
It was a typically dark return home for the Brighton psych rockers at The Old Market on Tuesday, as they wowed the audience with their mysterious build ups and eerie on stage persona.
I first saw Toy play to an unflatteringly thin crowd at the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury last summer. They impressed me a lot then with their ghostly synth sounds and dreamy melodies, however, they seemed a little restricted in their approach. The recent release of second album, Join The Dots has allowed far more airtime, which has clearly had a positive effect on the confidence of the group.
Instrumentally, they have become significantly tighter and the music has a less by the book feel to it. Songs were often used simply as a starting point; expanding into progressive, mind spinning instrumentals. The music gained momentum as expansive drum beats added to ambient build-ups. This was particularly effective during recent single, Join The Dots, bursting into faster, heavier rock after a long, monotonous intro. However, guitarist, Dominic O’Dair’s eccentric playing techniques and over complicated guitar solos sometimes overcrowded the sound, drowning out Tom Dougall’s vocals.
The gloomy stage presence added a visionary aspect to the dark sounds. Vacant stares at their audience whilst playing through the set gave a haunting feel to the gig. Frontman, Dougall stood elegantly poised throughout, like a member of a moody glam rock band from the 70s, whilst others distressingly threw themselves around in a sea of Fender Jaguars.
Toy are clearly still a vital part of Heavenly Recordings’ psychadelia revival. The continuous guitar drones and weird synth patterns created a chillingly atmospheric show, and although there were a few over keen moments, the explorative nature of the band is excitingly authentic.