thu 25/07/2024

CD: Yello - Toy | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Yello - Toy

CD: Yello - Toy

Swiss electro-pop perennials mellowing nicely with age

Yello seek colandary delights

You couldn’t make Yello up. They’re a couple of wry Swiss synth-pop ironists fronted by a suave, moustachioed, septuagenarian multi-millionaire poker-player, golfer and industrialist. Everyone and their uncle makes electronic music now, but when Yello began at the end of the Seventies, they were members of an elite club – Kraftwerk, Human League, Gary Numan, OMD, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and the rest of that relatively small crew of innovators.

Yello’s use of sampling was ahead of its time, and singles such as “Bostich” and “I Love You” (and, a few years later, “The Race”) bridged the avant-garde, pop and techno (before the last had even been invented). They were generally ear-friendly in their experimentalism and, as the years have passed, their sound has grown mellower. Indeed, Toy, their 13th studio album, is positively Balearic.

Even the least of it has a certain drifting, MDMA coziness

Laconic frontman Dieter Meier is still a dab hand at adding droll, occasionally surreal lyricism to proceedings. One song is even called “Dialetical Kid”. His voice is a lazy growl midway between Lee Marvin, Robbie Robertson and, of course, Leonard Cohen, although he doesn’t sing on every track. Instead, female guest singers are everywhere, notably on the sweet, spaced chill-pop ballad “Kiss the Cloud”, featuring Fifi Rong.

But studio maestro Boris Blank’s music is the key to the album’s likeability. It occasionally recalls floaty Ibizan sunset beachside fare, but then he’ll suddenly inject skew-whiff sounds that, alongside Meier’s oddness, pluck the brain from stoner reverie to pop present. The sudden percussive section on the provocatively titled “Tool of Love” is a case in point, as is the whole of the single “Limbo”.

The album ends with two delicious ambient pieces, sending the listener off into the cosmos. What comes before is not universally memorable but even the least of it has a certain drifting, MDMA coziness, while the best showcases a band which has retained imagination and a firm sense of their own peculiar identity.

Laconic frontman Dieter Meier is still a dab hand at adding droll, occasionally surreal lyricism


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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