Toy Horses – Toy Horses

There has been a lot of fuss over and feverish acclaim sent the way of Welsh duo Toy Horses ever since their early demos hit the internet in 2010. Those early songs took no time in becoming a constantly growing success that led to national and international radio play. The insightful melody lined and expressive uncluttered tunes the pair created rode a word of mouth wave that without any real self promotion from the band itself, took them to the ears and close attention of fans and media both sides of the pond. As things led to other things and more opportunities the stepfather-stepson duo Adam D Franklin and Tom Williams found themselves the attention of US radio guru Nic Harcourt who invited the band to perform at his SXSW showcase. Proclaiming them his highlight of the festival Harcourt then had the pair perform his KCRW radio show in LA. This led to Ken Coomer (Wilco) becoming aware of them and to be another to fall to their impressive indie charm. He contacted the band personally offering to produce their debut album which was subsequently recorded in Nashville and released in the summer of 2011.

The self titled collection of ten assured and vibrant tunes is re-released as a luxury edition on February 27th and will surely sweep up many more eager followers which it missed the first time around with its captivating melodies alongside expressive lyrics and emotions. From the opening Play What You Want it is easy to see why so many have taken the release and band to their hearts. There is an openness to the songs in word and sound that simply endears itself far beyond the ear. The first song alone is an infectious tease with an air of mischief about it. It is a little romp across the senses tempered by the lyrics personal plea.

Every song within the album is crafted with love and attention, each obviously thought over and though some do not quite grab with the depth of others it is something relative to the individual which is which. The use of piano and strings in And It Was You and in the wonderful closing track Interrupt offer a depth and extra emotive touch that most bands either neglect or do not imagine showing the intelligent ideas Toy Horses give to their sound.

It is when the pair lift up the tempo and pulse rate that they really excel with an extra flair that marks them for big things. The brilliant Damage Done has a siren like appeal and within moments one is mesmerised by the pulsating keys and minimal rhythms behind the vocals. If ever the term less is more was more proven it is on this song. Matching its flair are the equally impressive Loyal To The Cause and No Ones Gonna Leave You. The first of the two reminds of eighties band The Bluebells with its incisive and irresistible melody whilst the other and best song on the album, has a feisty nip to it reminding a little of the likes of Babyshambles. It comes with a little more attitude and offers an energetic rockabilly like vein throughout that sparks. Across the release the songs generally have a sixties feel at times bringing a kind of Kinks/Beatles like essence which works nicely but it is with the sounds and tunes that have this bite or raising of intensity that the album is at its best.

Toy Horses the band and album is refreshing. The duo write songs that are instinctive and heart warming but with an eager wicked glint in the eye. It is clear why the band garnered such a response to their sounds so far and though this album does not quite blow us away it indicates it is merely a question of time.

RingMaster 21/02/2012

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