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Album: Toyah - Posh Pop | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Toyah - Posh Pop

Album: Toyah - Posh Pop

Post-punk pop star bubbles with righteous energy but doesn't quite hit its mark

Windblown and joyous

Toyah, always a one-off, has been a surprise star of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Her YouTube Sunday Lunches, kitchen-filmed cover versions with her husband, King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, have been celebratory shared moments, jaunty, unlikely, silly, revelling unashamedly in pop music (and, bawdily, in her own physical attributes!).

Toyah is enjoyably eccentric, even when her music does not appeal, thus I really wanted to like this album, a celebration of her indefatigable spirit, but it failed to win me over.

Co-written and produced by regular collaborator Simon Darlow, and with contributions from Fripp, the overall tone is ebullient, but the production doesn’t reach the music’s anthemic ambition. It is big music scaled to production that's oddly flat, the groove muted, whether the Brit-pop drive of “Summer of Love” or the metal underpinning of “The Bride Will Return”, the latter a song about a videoed Beirut wedding interrupted by last year’s massive explosion that aspires to be a metaphor for all nuptials interrupted by the pandemic.

Born of punk but imbued with a prog rock sensibility, much enhanced since meeting Fripp, Toyah weaves sixth-form poetics all over her first album since 2008, and there are some notable clangers along the way, most especially “Everybody do the space dance/Everybody go round the sun/We’re the human race, man/Big fat evolution, having fun” (as far as I can hear it). Her voice is strident but can be vulnerable. Perhaps the best song is the elegiac slowie “Barefoot on Mars”, about her relationship with her late mother.

The bizarrely named Posh Pop is packed with ideas (every song comes with a video!). Despite its flaws, what comes through is verve and energy, a sense that Toyah and her compadres threw themselves wholeheartedly into it. However, while this intent is clear, what pours from the speakers is not musically persuasive. Toyah isn’t far from the terrain wandered by her more critically lauded proggy peer Kate Bush, yet there’s a musical ocean between them. Recently, a Toyah album appeared called Mesmerised: Rarities and Remixes 85-94 which, for my money, is a more interesting reminder of the talents of this most individual pop-rock celebrity.

Below: watch the video for "Summer of Love" by Toyah

Toyah isn’t far from the terrain wandered by her more critically lauded peer Kate Bush, yet there’s a musical ocean between them


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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"big fat evolution having fun", big bang evolution seems more likely.

The lyrics would be 'Big BANG evolution' I think.

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