Photography: Darren Aston / 500px.com/darren-m

TOY

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  • Prince Vaseline
  • Indigo Moon
Harvest Sun @ The Magnet 24/11/16

I arrive at The Magnet just in time to catch the gloriously overdriven tail end of INDIGO MOON’s set, and I’m pleased to see them going down so well with TOY’s crowd. On a bill of three bands, it’s always encouraging to see those playing at the beginning of the evening being greeted with enthusiasm and encouragement from the audience. Clearly, the songs I’ve missed have held the attention of this appreciative crowd, and the band certainly seem to enjoy belting out their own brand of psych rock that’s heavy on the heavy, coupled with high-powered and angsty punches.

Brighton’s PRINCE VASELINE, stripped down here to the duo of Max Earle and Snowy Mountain, bring haunting layers of angular analogue keyboards, layered simply across and around Earle’s guitar and vocal. This leaves plenty of space around Prince Vaseline’s sound, which adds to the drama. At times a seemingly disparate pairing, there’s still some worth and interest to be found in their set, with its krautrock references and the pair’s guarded introspection.

TOY bring much promise from the opening bars of the very first song. Clearly happy to be in front of the crowd, a feeling which is absolutely reciprocated across the room, the set is relentless, unremitting and definitive. Here to promote new album Clear Shot, they deliver a committed set of angular, driving pop songs, perfectly poised, energetic and engaging throughout. With a bedrock of an explosive piledriver of a rhythm section, and twisting, distorted guitars, they seem to have acquired a new front, a new bounce.

It’s a new positivity they seem at one with though, and they wear it very well. And although their formative comparisons to Felt have never seemed more accurate than in new songs like I’m Still Believing (not that those comparisons were necessarily a bad thing), the band seem to have taken a more full on, less jangly approach, and the crowd welcome this energy, this propulsion, with eyes wide and arms open. There’s a lilting play on the melodics in the new songs, which made the sound difficulties they seemed to be experiencing a little more than just distracting, actually more detracting as we struggled at times to pick out Tom Dougall’s voice for the first third of the set. That rhythm section, though. Thoroughly empowering and determined playing from Charlie Salvidge and ‘Panda’ Barron, the latter of who ended up in the crowd on several occasions, bass held high, plainly enjoying the fact that he’s in such a good live band. Another important change to the sound is the addition of a new keyboard player, Max Oscarold, whose presence adds a certain intensity, both sonically, in terms of the textural drones and analogue stabs, but also visually in terms of his disconcerting stare. The new material certainly sits in well with old favourites like Join The Dots and Heart Skips A Beat; but I wonder, as the band leave us in a swirl of feedback, where this new-found sound will take them next.

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