Yello - Toy - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Yello - Toy

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2016-10-07

Avant garde electronic duo Yello are best known for their megahit 'Oh Yeah', which took the world by storm in 1985 after being featured in the movie 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'. Played during the scene in which sidekick Cameron's father's classic Porsche is first revealed, the song became instantly associated with anything that was profoundly decadent, sexy, or jaw-droppingly awesome. Nothing else in the pair's body of work has come near the ubiquitous popularity of that single song.

But the funny thing is, it's obvious that they never really gave a shit, or tried to duplicate the exact style or success of that track. Dieter Meier and Boris Blank are just too damn cool to concern themselves with such things, and just kept doing their thing the way they thought best, making album after album of incredibly distinct music that could have been created by no one else. There's an oddly loungy, free-wheeling feeling to most of their output, a sense of excitement and cosmopolitan adventure, best exemplified by 'The Race', probably their second most famous tune, and one that is far more typical of their output. They seem to inhabit a place out of time, born of the 80s, but somehow following some alternate reality of music history. Toy, their newest set, sees them contently continuing their journey to god knows where.

'Limbo', the first proper song on the album, hits that same spot, echoing the banging percussion of 'The Race' and giving a strong sense of motion. '30,000 Days' is where Meier's vocals really come to the forefront. He has a remarkable voice, very like Leonard Cohen, a touch more gravelly, but with a similar wistfulness. It shines again in 'Tool of Love', which is a fun little track that bounces along, blending synth horns, keys, and even bongos, to highly entertaining effect.

Unfortunately, a raft of songs include guest vocals that mostly fail to have the same impact, like 'Cold Flame' featuring Malia, which comes off as uninspired with its predictable dance floor groove. Mostly the same thing happens with her performance in 'Give You the World', although the music tends more towards the globetrotting joyrides the band excels at. And 'Dark Side' features Fifi Rong, who gives a much silkier and more interesting performance backing up Meier over a supremely mellow groove.

What this all means is that Yello has released another solid, but not paradigm shifting album. They continue dancing to the beat of their own drum, and are generally successful, but would have been better served by keeping more of the singing in house. Longtime fans will be pleased but not blown away, and newbies probably won't get it for the most part. Start back with the 80s material to understand their evolution before buying this.

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