Album Review – This Town by Ta Toy Boy (2018) (Make Me Happy Records)

I have become mates with a big Afrikaaner (a Dutch speaking white South African) who lives across the road from me. He is the exact polar opposite to the limited masculinity of my ‘Britishness’ and revels in the fact that he can kill an elephant with one stern look and make all manner of stuff, like canoes, honey badger traps, taxidermists shops and rifles out of one of its toe bones with one hand, whilst skinning and ultimately cooking am entire buffalo on an open flame with the other. I swear he sweats pure testosterone.
However phobias reduce all men to equals. For give him the sight of just the smallest house spider in his living room and he is behind the sofa with the rest of his family, holding the aforementioned ‘toe bone rifle’ in one hand for protection whilst using the other hand to call his soft British neighbour to remove the hideous critter and thus save his life. For about as long as it takes me to throw the spider over the wall I know what it feels like to ooze essence of man that he so regularly feels.
However I have my own phobia…Gary Numan. Ever since a pre-pubescent viewing of his staring eyes and bloodless face informed me repeatedly that it was, in fact, ‘cold outside’ and that he was having trouble deciphering exactly what he was ‘doing in a room like this’ (Are Friend Electric video,  1979), the mere sound of overtly flourishing synths or electric organs makes my ears bleed and courses flight or fight (invariably flight) adrenaline to course through my veins.
Ta Toy Boy are perhaps the nearest thing I have found to a remedy. Their usage of synths is presented in what could be assumed as a dual assault if it was not more subtle than such an aggressive word suggests and if they were not always juxtaposed with smooth, ordered jangled and chiming pure guitar play, that weaves within the synths to such an extent that often the harmony is so measured that synth and guitar appear seamless.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2644754849/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/track=3850702162/transparent=true/

The most perfect example of this can be seen in the more muscular Sarah Records type sounds of tracks such as the opening French Kiss (see above), Lost in the Light and Beautiful In Furs which is all Brighter / Field Mice riffs with added pacemaker effect. The heartbeat of such tracks is pumped up to maximum volume until at the crescendo of these tracks DIIV become the more obvious reference point.
The other half of this album still weaves the synths and jangle to a large extent but slows the pace down to a tad below mid tempo in order to allow tracks such as Sunday Afternoon and Day Night Tomorrow (see below) accentuate the brilliance of George Begas beguiling ‘made for jangle vocals’.
Day Night Tomorrow

Begas’ vocals are warm, soothing and frictionless in the manner of great janglers such as Lloyd Cole or from a modern perspective Phil Sutton (Pale Lights) but somehow their is a slight croon always present that hints at Echo and the Bunnymen front man Ian McCulloch in that it creates a sense of added theatre to the sound. Perhaps it is a post-punk / jangle-pop by numbers sound, but when done this perfectly any sense of formulaic is forgiven.

If indie-pop with heavy dosages of 80’s synth / electronic organ / jangle-pop is something that seems even remotely palatable to you, then you should genuinely love this album. I do.

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