BY MICHAEL TOLAND
To say psych rock lives is no surprise to anyone who follows music that’s not on the radio or Pitchfork-approved – the genre’s been a mainstay of the underground since its inception in the ‘60s. But the ongoing, surprisingly large success of Flaming Lips and the radio hit scored by Tame Impala (atypical as “Elephant” is) means psychedelia might actually make some dough, so the big spotlight turns to other up-and-comers with a battery of effects pedals and an acidic twinkle in the eye.
Enter the radio-ready Toy and its second LP Join the Dots. Surrounded by a sonic cloud equal parts trippy and melodic, the London quintet sounds almost genetically engineered for psychedelia. Guitars shimmer and crunch, the rhythm section flickers between pop dynamics and driving drone and Tom Dougall’s plainspoken singing rings just this side of laconic. The band almost casually moves from delicious pop (“Endlessly,” “As We Turn”) to propulsive space rock (“Conductor,” the title track), sounding as comfortable with either as Glenn Beck does with insane conspiracy theories. Toy really hits a seductive stride when it mixes cosmic chocolate with pop peanut butter – “It’s Been So Long,” “Left to Wander” and the epic “Fall Out of Love” blaze and flutter like alien butterflies shifting between dimensions. No matter what confection the band prepares, the melody is the cake and the trippiness the frosting, making Join the Dots one of the most non-head accessible psych rock records since Tame Impala’s breakthrough.
DOWNLOAD: “It’s Been So Long,” “As We Turn,” “Join the Dots”