There are two sorts albums, those which draw you in right from the word go, give you a bunch of singles to sing along to, and a catchy opening song. And there are the ones that don't - they often get slated in the press because the critics can't be bothered to listen to the album more than once or twice. This is a real shame because these less instant, catchy albums often prove to have more longevity than their single heavy counterparts.
Whereas Toy's self titled debut fell more into the former category, their latest, Join the Dots certainly doesn't. With the first album it felt like every other song could be a single, only a couple of songs here really feel like they'd be viable single choices. Not to mention the fact that it opens with a long, dreamy instrumental - another sign they're moving in a less mainstream direction. A couple of songs stand out instantly, but the majority of the albums requires a number of listens to really start to appreciate. If your willing to give it the time, though, it really starts to shine.
I've heard critics of band acuse them of sounding repetitive - that's nonsense. The album features elements of dreamy, krautrock, shoegaze, 80's indie, late 70's post-punk, 60's psych and more. Obvious influences include the Velvet Underground, Neu! And My Bloody Valentine, but that's just scratching the surface. The vocals are a bit of a love/hate aspect of the band, but personally I think they're great. Sure, it wouldn't be unfair to call them monotone, but who said that's a bad thing? What about Lou Reed (RIP) or Leonard Cohen? They don't exactly have the widest vocal ranges on earth but no one compains about them.
I've listened to the album something like 10 times since I got it a week ago, and the first time I was a bit non-plussed by it all, but I'm very glad I kept with it because the songs are now firmly stuck in my head, and probably will be for a long time yet.