When Joe Jean & The Jing Jang Jong – the band more memorable for their name than their records – finally split up after a year of empty hype in 2009, you might have assumed that their members would spend their time in exile from the music industry ever after. What you wouldn’t have guessed is that three of them would resurface two years later as the best new band in the UK – for real this time.

Tom Dougall, Dominic O’Dair and Maxim Barron, with help from Charlie Salvidge and Alejandra Diez, have metamorphosed into Toy, a scintillating, cacophonous, psychedelic group that have no fear in pushing the boundaries of their music far beyond standard conventions. Their self-titled debut album reached stores last month, and they are amidst their biggest headline tour to date.

The power speakers of The Ruby Lounge, the city centre basement with apparently no noise level restrictions, provide the best platform for Toy’s Manchester appearance. After a set from Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs that had strong word-of-mouth approval (your reviewer was held up and only caught the last few seconds), Toy emerge onto the disarmingly low Ruby Lounge stage to precisely no fanfare. Fair to say, Toy’s strongest hand is not charisma – such rejection of the showbusiness side of public performance, you wonder, might have had something to do with their previous band’s demise. Indeed, for the duration of the night, frontman Tom Dougall’s only interactions with his crowd are curt, functional “thank you”s and occasional “this next song is…”

None of that matters though from the moment that opener ‘Colours Running Out’ swings into action. As with so many great bands, it can be hard to comprehend how only two guitars can conjure such a dense, fluctuating and reverberating sound. Dougall’s vocals are studiously understated, as he maintains a neutral stance despite his tales of frustrated love and social disaffection.

The absolute basis of the band’s music is the superb rhythm section – the robotic drumming of Charlie Salvidge and soaring and resounding basslines of Maxim Barron (aka Panda). The band may be growing tired of the comparison, but it cannot help but call to mind the motorik style of the great German bands of the 1970’s, specifically Can. Hell, they named one of their songs ‘Motoring’, so they asked for it.

Their songs can very loosely be divided into the more immediate, melodic (and, frankly, shorter) tracks and the sprawling, hypnotic trances that form the framework of both the album and the concert. And whilst you cannot help but suspect that there are members of the crowd who find themselves alienated by the latter, they are where the band appear most comfortable, and where they are at their best: ‘Dead And Gone’, a looping, riff-laden crescendo, ‘Drifting Deeper’, an instrumental with the most spot-on title of the year (and my personal favourite), and the stunning climax of ‘Kopter’, a ten-minute freak-out, wherein layer upon crazed, mind-bending layer of guitar swirls and screeches until the song can no longer bear its weight, and the whole gig explodes in a glorious devastating crash of noise. This time, Toy are a band here to stay, with the credentials to consolidate the hype.

Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.