The Toys EP is the new release from the enigmatic Sheffield based The Same Artist. Not much is known about TSA, as they take a ‘no names’ approach to their music and marketing. What we do know is that they cite Kraftwerk as a major influence, and that their music is of an electronic bent, labelled by the artist as ‘retro electro’. Whilst this is an interesting nametag, it also makes me slightly wary. Electro can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, some just great, some just dire, so I went into the Toys EP wondering quite what the artist meant by the use of ‘retro’ and ‘electro’. The listening experience makes the label clear, and helps to explain the style and the philosophy of the artist as well as much, much more…
The title track leads things off, with an instant, insistent beat acting as lead-in, and we get our first dose of the open, spacey production which is found throughout the record, with plenty of room on offer for the various elements of the tracks to breathe. The electronic melody on the track proves that the artist is not afraid of showing their influences whilst forging their own sound. The track builds with slightly off-kilter melody and effects. This is electro, but not in a mainstream way. The approach is found here and on the whole of the EP is both interesting and different.
The opening of track 2, Botox Your Life is slightly reminiscent of New Order, perhaps with a darker edge. A critique of everyday life, the track has a straightforward beat, with some darker elements going on behind it. TSA keeps the EP’s compositions relatively simple, but with different effects and sounds spidering away in the background of the tracks. The sound is clear and direct, and the overall package is very professional sounding. The tracks have an air of a different time and a different place, with The Fuse’s dark, almost industrial edginess – almost a la Bronski Beat – co-existing with the acoustic-led Wicker Chair, which presents interesting imagery in its lyrics. The vocals blend into the breakout towards the end, creating a supernova of sound. The beats are then added back in, working beautifully into a well-worked piano coda.
Trance Pennine Express is of course a cheeky ode to the Kraftwerk classic, and local train operating company. How will 8-minute effort close out EP?
As the title may suggest, this is a trancey-er, more deliberate attempt at the dancefloor. The initial head-nodding beats open out around the 2:45 mark, moving into sweeping blankets of sound, eased with blips and tinkles which register at the edges of the sound. Once again, the strengths of the production are highlighted, and the varied and effective tracks keep on going and keep on giving. This is one classy package.
The EP seems to be self-produced and promoted, but it is available via iTunes, so you won’t have to search too hard to get it. It will suit discerning, mature listeners of electronic music, with synth-pop elements which has style, and a serious approach to it.