Clear Shot by Toy

Release date: October 28, 2016
Label: Heavenly Recordings

UK band Toy have just released their splendid new recording Clear Shot, an amalgamation of influences ranging from Radiophonic Workshop to the Incredible String Band. They started working on the album in the first half half of 2015, splitting their time between Tom Dougall and bassist Maxim Barron’s place in New Cross and Dominic O’Dair’s flat in Walthamstow to lay down early demos. They entered Eve Studios in Stockport in October 2015 with producer David Wrench, and clearly knew the path that the album should take.

Title track ‘Clear Shot’ reminds me of Mission of Burma at its start but gradually morphs into gentle but complex melodics twists and turns. The result is impressive, soothing, and you barely notice the song’s length. When sprightly synth passages shoulder their way in, it all fits perfectly, tied up with a neat bow for listeners. Another shift happens with muscular guitar and fast drumming, and I am almost reminded of the stylistic shifts Mew is so famous for.

‘Another Dimension’ is like a miniature rock opera, encompassing elements of prog, chamber pop, vintage psych pop, and lovely harmonies in one tune. It fires on all cylinders and is just great! ‘Fast Silver’ has a noirish, spy drama feel to it, with some cool keyboards accompanying a relatively straightforward rhythm guitar. But like everything on this album, nothing’s quite as simple as it seems initially. This is another lengthy tune that passes by swiftly, like a fast moving daydream. Nice!

‘I’m Still Believing’ reminds me of The Jazz Butcher’s mid 80s period with a tiny twist of Go Betweens thrown in for good measure. Highly melodic and lush, this song continues the emerging pattern of cinematic and expansive music on Clear Shot. ‘Clouds That Cover The Sun’ is slightly blurred around the edges, a warm, keyboard driven tune, while ‘Jungle Games’ flirts with watery psych, rippling with bubbling synths and shifting between multiple themes.

‘Dream Orchestrator’ will have you bopping along as it unfurls, dominated by a percolating synth line and a strong melody. ‘Spirits Don’t Lie’ could easily find itself on a moody movie score, and it builds perfectly to a mesmerizing crescendo.

The entire album fascinates me, and repeated listens reveal a bit more each time, and it never gets old. Great work, lads!

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