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Join the Dots

Heavenly/[PIAS] America

Dec 22, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

If 2011 was the year of dubstep and 2012 the year when EDM decided to rear its head at every single opportunity, then what was the defining music sound of 2013? There’s certainly a strong argument to be made that it’s the year psych and drone rock left the coattails of Melody’s Echo Chamber and Tame Impala and took off by itself. Never mind the return of My Bloody Valentinewe had critically acclaimed new material from Hookworms, MONEY, Temples, Girls Names, Crystal Stilts, and Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs amongst other. Preceding that lot though, and in Heavenly sharing a label with them, were London five-piece TOY, who put out their debut album some 15 months ago. If they kicked off this year’s movement then they’re bookending it too, with second album Join the Dots.

Many have compared the new album to the solo work of former Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett, but this is a little wide of the mark. The likes of “Fall Out of Love” and “Endlessly” owe more to 1970s Germany with their drones and Krautrock rhythms; this is a far darker, heavier album than much of the Barrett-inspired folktronica acts that have played this year’s festival circuit. Melody has its place at the forefront, such as on the harmony-laden “Left to Wander,” but more often than not it takes a back seat to smoggy black textures.

The band is reputed to be an energetic, engaging one live, and in order to try and recapture that sound on record they apparently set up a lighting rig, as per their stage set up, in the recording studio. If this sounds like a superficial and probably ineffective gimmick then…well, it is. While the visceral nature of their shows comes through in their sound, the album often lacks energy. Most of the songs are slow-burners; while this in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, songs such as “Conductor” and “You Won’t Be the Same” feel ponderous and unsure of themselves, as if the band are wary of fully committing to exploring the ideas their weird guitar soundsand boy, do they love their weird guitar soundsallow for.

Things do improve and the band’s sound/aesthetic grows in confidence, and by the time they reach aforementioned closer “Fall Out of Love” they have achieved a soaring magnificence. For the most part though, this is the sound of a band with huge, yet-to-be-realized potential. (

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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