Toy @ Shacklewell Arms
Shacklewell Arms, 10feb12
With the failed prototype Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong consigned to the under-stairs cupboard, three of their members (Jing, Jang AND Jong one assumes) have turned up in the latest red hot proposition to dangle itself in front of the eager ears and eyeballs of London’s zeitgeist surfers.
Being a free in, those without tickets are told to gather for potential scraps and morsels in case of holders not making an appearance and thus the bar is a jostlefest, the corridor to the backroom like a department store entrance on Boxing Day morning, and the live room, once open, sucks in its stomach to allow for the capacity rules to be bent like a gymnast’s spine.
As Toy hit the stage, the doors cease to flap, the crowd congeal like toes in the pit of a size-too-small slipper and…and…an amp blows, to the clear agony of frontman Tom Dougall who sighs “everything’s broken” like a man who should be wrapped head-to-toe in bandages rather than a black polo-neck. Happily a replacement is pushed through the forced frottage and the gig kicks off as if nothing troublesome has happened.
If anything the interest in being part of this crowd does not translate into heady atmosphere, but this might be partly down to Toy having that vaguely detached, ice-cool thing going on (although no-one seems to have told keyboardist Alejandra Diez, who beams like an airline host throughout).
Not that the gig is without oomph. At their best, crashing around with elongated kosmische codas with seemingly effortless gusto, they are much more than pilot fish swimming in the safety of The Horrors’ shark-like slipstream. However, some songs have a tendency to simper, and at these moments, they are much less.
Their biggest challenge will be to escape the shadow of their Horroring advocates, given the similar waters and direction in which they travel. To my mind though Left Myself Behind knocks anything I’ve heard by them ‘Orrors into a cocked hat, and an increase in the motorik muscle-psych approach would drive things forward in a much more arresting manner.
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