CD, Wonderland Records, 2007
Hey kids, do you like synthpop? How about robots? Video-games? If those three things combined are your favorite thing in the world, then read no further. Go to Thermostatic’s website at once and purchase a copy of “Joy Toy”. Everyone else pass go, collect 200 dollars and read the enclosed review.
Okay, let’s rewind for a second and get back to basics here. Sweden’s Thermostatic already released “Joy Toy” in 2005. So why am I reviewing a 2005 release? Well, because the “Joy Toy” in my hand is not the same as 2005’s album with the same name. Version 2.0 was re-issued in 2007 and it contains 4 more tracks than its predecessor. Unfortunately, the cool fold-out digi-pack that encased the first print run of “Joy Toy”was replaced by a less impressive card sleeve. Gain four more songs, lessen the quality of packaging. You win some, you lose some.
Back to the part that everyone cares about, namely video games and robots. In this case, dear video-game Nerds, you will be pleased to know that there are video-game-esque sounds on almost every single track on this CD. The appropriately titled name “Game” pays homage to the fairy tale perennial favorite: princesses being rescued by their heroes. Given the subject matter of the song and the quirky old school console sounds that dominate this disc, it almost seems like these guys should be scoring the next “Zelda” title. Love and machinery are common themes on “Joy Toy” as well. “Private Machine” illustrates the fusion of these subject matters best, when Vox proclaims in her adorably kittenish voice that robots get her going. It’s all so painfully cute, but not so syrupy-sweet that vomiting needs to be induced. This is a fun release with simple catchy beats and styles that mix the perfect amounts of retro disco vibes, detached electroclash and perky synthpop.
I sincerely hope that New York City DJs that spin at clubs that cater to the electroclash-loving hipster crowd catch wind of “Joy Toy”, due to the fact that they have a dance floor goldmine in tracks like “Paninaro” and “I Want to be a Marilyn”. Both songs blend a vintage 80’s feel with the “cooler than thou” atmosphere of modern electroclash and both can serve as a perfect soundtrack to all manners of decadent activities. Goth/Industrial DJs should take notice as well. The darker feel of “No Hands” would mesh well with the usually played moody club staples. Ditto for the more upbeat Code 64 remix of “So Close So Near”, which also carries plenty of floor packing potential. If ‘Does XYZ beat match with ABC?’ is the furthest thing from your mind, I have it on good authority (mine) that you’ll find yourself bobbing your head along to the beat anyway. Just like I was when I was listening to the original version of “So Close So Near”. Although the snares in the opening drum sequence in the above mentioned song remind me of the beat in Toni Basil’s “Mickey”.
My only real “beef” with this CD is with “Far Away”, another electroclash flavored song that would sound much better if the robotic male vocals were replaced with some monotone and pseudo disinterested yet sensual female spoken word that is so trademark in that genre. After all most of us like to visualize a sexy android vixen belting out this stuff as opposed to the “Box” robot you encounter in the icy caves of “Logan’s Run”.
“Joy Toy” could go either way. It can be just what the doctor ordered to lift you jaded folks out of your seasonal depression, with its playfully addictive repertoire of Nintendo love songs. Or it could simply annoy the Jesus Christ out of you. In either case, you won’t be quick to forget it and that’s why I think you’ll be hearing more from these Scandinavian technology fiends in the future.
— Bea W.