Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Covers Album of the Year - Toy - Songs For Consumption

Not a category I'd always run or one where there are contenders every year. This year though, this Toy record stuck out!

A fine late year album of covers from Brighton band Toy. Tipping their hats to their influences while re-inventing the original songs in subtle and nuanced ways. This a warm and sensuous if slightly sinister record and well worth a listen.

Setting off with The Stooges' Down On The Street, one of the finest opening tracks from any album ever frankly, they lay down their ground rules immediately. Rather than trying to ape the track's feral rage they worm inside it instead with an insistent electro pulse, imagining what the song might have sounded like had Suicide played it.

From there to Amanda Lear's Follow Me, something of an unappreciated masterpiece which they do full justice to. And then to Nico's obscure Sixty Forty. Toy are clearly fans first and foremost but they're also sufficiently imaginative and inventive not to play their hand completely straight and subsequently the record starts to cast a dark hypnotic spell.

I personally didn't go for their take on The Troggs Cousin Jane as the original is one of my particular favourites and didn't feel its essential strangeness was taken anywhere new here. Their version of Soft Cell's Fun City is great though, an exploration of metropolitan decadence, discovery and loss.

Choosing to have a pop at Serge Gainsbourg's Lemon Incest as they do next, makes perfect sense given that the album could almost be a soundtrack for for some lush and dubious European movie. Toy are clearly OST obsessives and they've watched and listened well as  Songs For Consumption crafts a genuinely cinematic momentum over the course of its eight tracks.

They play Always On My Mind relatively straight. It's by far the best known track on here and Toy's take is all Tennant and next to no Presley. The song's melody is such a gift that it has to be played faithfully. No real prizes won here. It's just a good song.

To close with John Barry's A Doll's House is an inspired move though. It's a credits roll moment ushering us out of the darkness of the cinema and onto the street. Songs For Consumption is a smooth, considered and seductive record. Not quite Pin Ups, These Foolish Things or Kicking Against The Pricks perhaps but certainly more than a mere footnote. It will be interesting to see where this takes the band next.

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