Despite building up a loyal following in the UK, Toy never quite reached the potential that it looked like they would back in 2012 with their self-titled debut album Toy. Their show at Patterns was in support of their fourth record, Happy in the Hollow, which we described as, “A wild ride through the darkness of psychedelia in just about every way, it’s a delightful journey that changes at the drop of a hat”. As huge fans of the five-piece, and certainly their latest album, this was an inanimate and almost lifeless performance from the Brighton band.
Remarkably, Brighton outfit Toy’s fourth, and latest record, Happy in the Hollow, comes almost a decade since the band formed. Since then, they’ve not only grown in confidence but, musically, they’ve become much broader with a vaster outlook and back catalogue. Happy in the Hollow, their first album away from label Heavenly Recordings – they’re now on Tough Love Records – was written and produced in its entirety by the band themselves and that creative control is telling. A sonic journey through the worlds of psych, Happy in the Hollow is an experimental and diverse listen that offers more and more on each listen. For better and for worst, Happy in the Hollow is a project that could only come from Toy.
All day music events seem to be the in thing this year, this is the fourth one I’ve been to so far and it’s a great way to see a short set from a bunch of bands in one day. It can be a tricky thing to get right, especially somewhere like the Green Door Store where there is only one stage and quite a confined space. Though new promoter Utopia did a great job.
It was my first time seeing TOY, which seems strange considering they’ve mostly come from Brighton, with some of the guys even going to the same school as me (although a few years after my time there). It was only through reading our recent Spotlight interview with the band that I made the connection with Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong, who I had seen before they really got going, in a dingy shoebox venue in Shoreditch. TOY are instantly recognisable though, dressed like mannequins for the display window of Beyond Retro or To Be Worn Again. Their music is couched in similar terms; a carefully curated cross-section of retro and more modern elements fused together into a satisfying whole. 60s revivalism, often propelled by kraut-rock beats and soaked in wall-of-noise distortions and ambience that go a little beyond punk, perhaps most recalling the work of their early tour mates The Horrors, who gave them a bit of a leg up by inviting them on the road.