The sci-fi geeks who watch Dr Who had their fears realised in a recent episode where people were transported into a miniaturised wendy house inside a cupboard and attacked by dolls. Not quite as scary as IT or Gremlins (I still can’t watch either), but it went some way to reaffirming that toys can’t be trusted.
The only way to subjugate toys is to do unspeakable things to them. Little boys learn to do this early on by ripping dolls heads off, and girls probably cut the tails of My Little Ponies. For grown-ups the answer is to bastardise Fisher Price Spell-and-Learn boards into sequencers, or customise Game Boys in to gabba squelches.
For My Toys Like Me’s debut, 2009′s Where We Are, these methodologies were seemingly employed by the Londoners to create the fizzbomb 8-bit electro-pop of childhood nightmares, covered in Angel Delight with a banger under it: It was Crystal Castles for kids, Lazy Town down a K hole. With Come On Sunshine the sugar rush has subsided and the Frances Noon and Lazlo Legezer led collective have found themselves in the grown up world of electro grooves and crafted beats.
Come on Sunshine is an evening trip-pop record for those care free nights of schmoozing and appletinis- imagine if The xx smiled, listened to Donna Summer and stopped taking themselves so bloody seriously. It’s oozing with sparling break-beats, pouncing bass and flittering guitars all held together with a barrage of syncopated synth breaks and fairy dust bleeps. Its electo-pop is reminiscent of a Lilly Allen fronted Telepopmusik at a SBTRKT gig yet each track is focussed on its own identity, be that the trip-hop grunge of ‘Matador’ of the industrial trance of ‘Freak’
Noon’s vocals can be hard to pin down as they change for each song. She adopts the style of Moloko’s Rosin Murphy on ‘Lost’ or Martina Topley Bird on ‘Tom’. However, this shift accompanies the production which uses the vocals as another instrument, while avoiding the risk of it sounding like a guest vocalist treadmill. This is a credit to Legezer’s engineering; it’s spacious enough to be garnished with the pitter patter of tiny beats when needed, yet can fire distorted guitars to give ample cover to the vocals.
The stand out track is ‘Freak’; its five minutes of perpetual beats with sugarplum vocals and compressed synths which break into warped industrial chugs. It’s unpredictable and tumbling. As the chorus kicks it suddenly trails off into a claustrophobic mono breakdown, then there’s sudden nu-rave discordance. It should be a messy effects tangle but it’s crafted to epic proportions. It also peaks with the Les Rhythm Digital-esque bass and soul of ‘How to Breath’ with its duelling vocals and deep electro tickling.
The success of Come On Sunshine is in My Toys Like Me’s refusal to turn in to a pop parody a-la Ting Tings or Noisettes. They have maintained their initial potential yet matured with integrity and a disregard for pigeon holes. Unfortunately there are simply too many ideas floating around so Come On Sunshine often feels like a check list of their favourite bits from a late night Ministry of Sound compilation. A lot of it could have come from a period between 1997 and 2003: a period when trip-hop found a home on the coffee table and bars sipped to the sound of Morcheeba and spot of garage. Despite the lack of innovation Come on Sunshine is a very good easy listening electro record by a band which isn’t afraid to grow up how it wants.