8/10 Brian Staff review, 06 December 2013
I must be honest here and say that although their early singles were neat pieces of motorik ethereal rock I never quite gelled with their self-titled full length so I wasn't expecting much from this. 'A follow up, already?" I bleated in astonishment on uncovering this in the pile.
It takes a good band to build on the promise of a much-hyped début and deliver a subsequently stronger record. Many acts change stylistic tack and alienate their audience, others offer up a weaker version of their first. I've seen them do live albums, compilations to break the gap. Not many deliver the album they should have realised the first time.
'Join the Dots' doesn't compromise their refined airy take on psychedelia and space-rock, it merely expands the original premise into something more thoughtful, compelling and ultimately satisfying. It's worth noting that from this clean minimal template they work from that there's more fresh ideas here - it's a spacious and warm sounding record with some truly hypnotic and anthemic little workouts.
'JTD' is stacked with a type of modern propulsive psychedelic pop that bristles with subtle invention and cool skyscraping guitar pyrotechnics whilst nailing a solid organic groove...some sweet catchy tunes to be devoured throughout too.
Not much more than you could ask for than that...just a real good old-fashioned dream-rock album
8/10 Robert Customer review, 4th December 2013
There are two sorts albums, those which draw you in right from the word go, give you a bunch of singles to sing along to, and a catchy opening song. And there are the ones that don’t – they often get slated in the press because the critics can’t be bothered to listen to the album more than once or twice. This is a real shame because these less instant, catchy albums often prove to have more longevity than their single heavy counterparts.
Whereas Toy’s self titled debut fell more into the former category, their latest, Join the Dots certainly doesn't. With the first album it felt like every other song could be a single, only a couple of songs here really feel like they’d be viable single choices. Not to mention the fact that it opens with a long, dreamy instrumental - another sign they’re moving in a less mainstream direction. A couple of songs stand out instantly, but the majority of the albums requires a number of listens to really start to appreciate. If your willing to give it the time, though, it really starts to shine.
I've heard critics of band acuse them of sounding repetitive – that’s nonsense. The album features elements of dreamy, krautrock, shoegaze, 80’s indie, late 70’s post-punk, 60’s psych and more. Obvious influences include the Velvet Underground, Neu! And My Bloody Valentine, but that’s just scratching the surface. The vocals are a bit of a love/hate aspect of the band, but personally I think they’re great. Sure, it wouldn't be unfair to call them monotone, but who said that’s a bad thing? What about Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen? They don’t exactly have the widest vocal ranges on earth but no one compains about them.
I’ve listened to the album something like 10 times since I got it a week ago, and the first time I was a bit non-plussed by it all, but I’m very glad I kept with it because the songs are now firmly stuck in my head, and probably will be for a long time yet.
6/10 Vern Customer review, 3rd December 2013
I've just listened to this latest album from TOY not knowing what to expect, mainly because I am still trying to figure out their last album. Like a large chunk of beef, TOY's first album lodged itself somewhere am I am still trying to workout how to digest it. I enjoyed it but it just seemed very 'samey' for want of a better word. That rough guitar just seemed to whirl f-o-r-e-v-e-r on all the tracks accompanied by a driving drum and some dull vocals. It was a great sound but all too soon got a little beige, which is not an adjective I think sits comfortably with Kraut/Psych/Shoegaze bands. I would still give their debut a 6.5/10 if not a little more. But that was last time, and I was dreading hearing that same guitar immediately drop in as we chunder through yet more Kraut-slush. However the first track is a charming little instrumental which rumbles along for 7mins and kept my interest as the band introduce some now tinklings here and there. I soon fell back into the mud as the rest of the album, although with some great moments, just fell into a monotonous vibe which I was all too happy to escape. The vocals are so stilted on all the tracks that they just seem so pointless and take away so much from the sound. Perhaps it is the vocals which make all music meld into a mess, I am not sure. The album ends on a low note as it has a jam section which I am pretty sure has been lifted from one of their singles from last year. I can't be bothered to find the name of the single because it almost feels like TOY can't be bothered. I don't want to be harsh on TOY, the sound is great, instrumentation fab, but they just frustrate me because I know there is so much more there that I would love but I just can't see it for all the muddy guitar. Not an improvement on last time, but that ain't a bad thing at all.
9/10 Martin Customer review, 1st December 2013
Personally, Toy have been one of my absolute favorite bands of the past few years, if not ever, so I was more than a little excited to hear the bands new album. Initial impressions were good, but not great. The album opens with ethereal washes of synthesizer over a simple, trance like bass and drum groove. The 8 minute long instrumental acts an excellent album opener, which is one of the best songs on the album, though it does take a few listens to get into fully, much like the rest of the album. A few of the tracks stand out as being instantly accessible and are the ones you should check out first if you're unsure about the album. To a Death Unknown is a brilliant bit of 80's inspired indie, while the title track, also the album's lead single, has a great groove to it and is one of the album's most accessible moments. The rest of the tracks are of a more experimental nature than the majority of the band's first album, and do take a little more getting into, but it is well worth the effort. I certainly can’t see as many singles being taken off this album as were off the last, anyway. Join the Dots makes the band a little more difficult to pigeonhole than they were during their first album, but fans of alternative rock, modern (and old) psychedelia, krautrock and shoegaze would all be doing themselves a big favour to pick this album up – just don’t up on it after the first listen.
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- Join The Dots by TOY
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