‘With musicality as intricate as the jewels in a crown, it’s a truly majestic debut.’
Intro to TOYGIRL
When you think of Ireland, and more specifically the music it produces, the chances are you think of traditional folk, jigs, reels and maybe a boy band from the 90’s. Well it’s time to open your ears a little more. Hailing from Dublin, five piece TOYGIRL bring a sound that is as far from those examples as you can imagine. They’re young. They’re out there. And they’re not afraid to, in their
words, ‘be a bit wacky’ when it comes to mixing genres! However, if that hasn’t whetted your appetite enough, maybe the fact that singer-songwriter-frontwoman Hannah is bilingual will convince you just that bit more. Read more at: Behind the Music: Interview with TOYGIRL.
Setting up the balance of chilled yet momentum filled musicality that runs throughout TOYGIRL’s debut track, synth brass, soft, rim-shot infused drums, and organ chords grab our attention instantly. Immediately showcasing the unique blend of influences that they stand by, you can’t pinpoint what genre the track lies in. But it simply doesn’t matter as what you are hearing is sophisticated musicality of the highest level. And, with Hannah’s vocal soon to enter, it gets even higher.
Bringing a soft, gently reverb-edged tone, the initial lyrics of ‘A bed of laughter for my head’ greet us. Dominant in the mix and accompanied by a much quieter version of the opening instrumental motifs, Hannah’s vocal can be fully experienced without distraction. However, as we reach the preceding chorus lines of ‘They couldn’t guess that I’m a mess’ and the title-connected ‘Stuck in the throne that you put me on’ each syllable becomes increasingly emphasised by the surrounding elements.
Switching from the delicate nature of the verse, a stylish drum break directs us to the chorus for the first time. Generating a change in sound, but with the style influences still apparent, dreamy, jazz-inspired electric guitar and more dominating percussion bring extra momentum. Interweaving much more than the beginning, each line is like an individual puzzle piece which fits perfectly with the next. Given that this occurs at the exact moment we hear the phrase ‘Reign over me, your majesty’ it reflects the intention of the lyricism – that of striving to fit in, yet maintain uniqueness – perfectly.
Taking the instrumental elements that have just been established a stage further, on reaching the second verse they play a much more dominating role. Becoming conversational alongside the lyrics, these pseudo-improvisatory fragments build and embellished with patterns as intricate as the jewels in a crown, they themselves nod to the title. Likewise, with the chorus making a return and Hannah’s vocal becoming both increasingly impassioned and increasingly stylish, the idea of standing out from the crowd gets fully enhanced.
Given that we have just built to the most powerful sound of the track to this point, it very much feels as though the climax has been reached too soon. Just what is to come in the remaining two minutes? Well, a musical hop across the channel that’s what! Utilising one of the key elements that sets TOYGIRL apart, bilingual Hannah turns lyrically French to deliver an intriguing sounding breakdown.
Contrasting in more ways than one – but remaining heavily focused on the theme of the track – it’s a blatant statement of going against the normality of trying to fit in. As for the level of connection, with phrases such as ‘Normalite devient mon essentielle’ and ‘Mon corps invente par un homme de grande position’ it matters not if you speak French as you can connect just as much. However, in case you need a few seconds to ponder what you have just heard, a false build up and a false ending provides the ideal opportunity.
Having musically caught us out good and proper, and trust me it will every single time, following two seconds of complete silence, a huge chorus based resurgence occurs. Front-extending the previous lyrics, Hannah takes us back into the full-on sound that TOYGIRL teased us with at the false climax. This time though nothing is false about it as with frantic fragment melodies, clashing cross-rhythms and vivacious vocals, they deliver a sound that truly stands out from the crowd.