Special Benny - Toys

by James Bray Rating:3 Release Date:2010-09-06

Really, the main job of the music reviewer should involve them being enthused and effusive about music; they shouldn't rely on cheap cynicism and lazy diatribes to produce copy. However, the sheer mediocrity of groups like Special Benny make it difficult not to fall into these conventions of lazy journalism. So I'll try to show some restraint while reviewing Toys. Special Benny are an indie-prog outfit from South London. Every member of the band has studied music except for one Mat Baynton who, apparently, went to clown school instead. As a result the group are musically competent in that they can happily make geometric shapes up and down fret boards and keyboards for hours and hours.

Unfortunately, the group have very little, if any, song craft at all. The first track and lead single 'Air Filter', starts off in dreamy mo-folk then abruptly switches to the start/stop dynamics of post-punk and finishes off in tedious saxophone breakdowns; it's pretty shocking. The group has little direction or continuity so their music sounds like a series of desperately contrived jam sessions with each member playing their respective part of an incoherent song. Although some of the musical fills may be technically sophisticated, they are derivative and deeply uninspired; from the clichéd plaintive acoustic guitar picking to the incongruously tropical saxophone solos, things sound decidedly stale. The group's musicalogical noodling is tied together by disparate drum fills and indifferent melodies. The vocals on the few tracks that are not instrumentals would euphemistically be described as underwhelming and that saxophone really begins to grate after a while.

The group's last release was the self-recorded Rumble Strip EP which appeared in 2006. Since then the lives of the respective members of the group have imposed on the life of the band and there were even talks of disbanding the group; Shock/horror! This goes to show that they're really just a bunch of musically competent dilettantes rather than an actual band. Although the group do go about their work methodically and with a certain degree of passion, they just don't have any grace or style or musical intuition. Unfortunately, Special Benny just doesn't have that illusive thing that we call talent.

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