In the late '90s, industrial/rock/dance music bands like VNV Nation and Icon Of Coil would coin the term "futurepop," toning down the testosterone-laced fury of '90s industrial rock, like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson, stripping it down to a streamlined and efficient sound, primed for the dance floor. Futurepop would revolutionize and revivify the futurist goals of new wave & synthpop, when all sounds had to be brand new and forward-looking.
Montreal's Toykult take us back in time to when the New York Dolls were dolled up in Communist garb and Marxist propaganda. It was a time when punk was expected to be sound, and pop music had a real revolutionary potential.
This schism is still being warred over today, with some moving their bodies to free their minds, while others just sweat and squirm to forget. Do you want your pop music to engage with the world, to feel a part of something larger? Or is it just a brief escapist fantasy, to nullify your 9-to-5 aches and pains?
Either way, you're bound to find something to like in Toykult's Commie Tommy EP. Commie Tommy focuses more on the future than the pop, being rooted in what is the cusp of electronic music. Thick, blurry square wave bass, on "Supermario Nation" washes through your brain like pipe cleaners, while dubstep wobbles lap like sickly ink waves on "Sick Puppeteers." The music is rich and layered, building, cracking, and breaking - perfect for driving club crowds to abandon.
Toykult may be focused on the future, but he's not allergic to the past. A number of genres that don't get enough love these days - notably drum n’ bass, dubstep, and breakbeats - make a grand showing on Commie Tommy. The phat block rockin' beats of "Drone Machine" takes us back to the Big Room days of The Chemical Bros. big beat, and we wonder why we ever turned our backs on it. It sounds freakin' fierce! How could you not lose your stuff to such muscular pummeling?
The only less-than-perfect aspect of Commie Tommy is the vocals. They're not bad, per se, but their inclusion isn't always warranted. As musicians/producers, we must always ask ourselves: Does that belong there? Or to borrow a phrase from Project Runway: "edit, edit, edit"! At times, Toykult's vocals earn their position, with bare hints of blue-eyed soul on "Drone Machine" and sometimes on "Sick Puppeteers." I don't even mind the autotune of "Trickle Dicks." There's just a weird and tuneless quality to the vocals on "Supermario Nation" that don't quite gel with the rest of the music, which is always a risk when you blend acoustic and electronic signals.
It's a minor foible in an otherwise highly enjoyable dance/pop record. The beats are stupendous, the bass is thick as honey, and this reviewer is content. If you're a DJ at a Goth night, drop this in your set, and watch the pancake make-up run!
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