The Toy Dolls – The Album After The Last One

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

The Toy Dolls

The Album After The Last One - Secret Records

Certain cultural markers make the most sense in their place of origin.  Poutine in Canada, lederhosen in Germany, wooden clogs in Holland, and nesting dolls in Russia – and new to my knowledge, The Toy Dolls in the UK.  The long running pop-punk trio is a makeshift comedy troupe that has been entertaining their home country since 1979.  Distinguishable by their signature cartoony glasses and obnoxious, spastic style, they are now on their twelfth release, The Album After The Last One, which serves as their first new material in roughly eight years.  As an outsider though, I can’t shake the feeling that the disc is intended for British ears only.

The name of the game is slapstick with plenty of inside jokes and unbearably cheesy moments.  Opener “Olgamental Intro” includes plenty of eye-rolling commentary, the worst being a knock at the door by children out for seasonal Christmas Caroling.  Intended as a tie-in for the resulting “Credit Crunch Christmas,” the humour falls flat, becoming a chore to listen to during repeat listens.  And because the band is so quintessentially British, most of the cultural references pass well over my head.  “Dirty Doreen,” “Kevin’s Cotton Wool Kids,” and “Fiery Jack” might garner a chuckle from Brits, but they mostly keeps me scratching my head and combing Wikipedia for answers.

Compound all this with front man Michael “Olga” Algar singing like a mouse swallowing a frog – pitchy with an aged croak – and there isn’t much enjoyment left.  Olga makes for one of the most unpleasantly stressed vocal performances I’ve heard in recent memory, so not only do I have little to no idea what the band is yapping about, but it’s hard on the ears along the way.  Needless to say, this makes the acoustic bonus tracks are a complete write off.

If you’re looking for British punk rock that lands a little off kilter, stick with The Adicts.  While perhaps not the perfect comparison, they serve as an example of a quirky, regionally specific British punk band that can be successfully exported without losing their magic.  I’m sure the boys had some fun in the studio putting together The Album After The Last One, but it feels too much of a case of “you have to be there to get it” to garner a recommendation.