Album Review: The Toy Dolls – “Episode XIII”
Maybe the ultimate cult punk band, it’s now 40 years since Sunderland’s Toy Dolls put out their debut single Tommy Kowey’s Car. En route, they’ve managed to chalk up a Top 5 hit with a breakneck cover of Nellie The Elephant and a whole anthology full of supremely daft singalong pop-punk anthems that would’ve been hits in a just world, and built up a large and loyal following both in Britain and abroad.
Episode XIII sees the Toy Dolls on their usually enjoyably silly form as evidenced on opening tune Arthur Clark’s A Dark Horse with the couplet “He’s got no yacht/And you know wot?/Arthur ain’t an air pilot!”. En route they take in tales of being dumped on package holidays (Knickers Off In Mykonos and Senor Benidorm), computer thieves (The Laptop Lifter) and disliking easy listening (Richard Clayderman’s A Creep).
The key weapon in the Toy Dolls’ arsenal though has always been singer/guitarist Olga – as well as being a man with a knack for a good hook and a good one-liner to make you chuckle, the guy is also possessed of the sort of impressive guitar skills that’d see him comfortably hold his own in any thrash band you’d care to name (listen to the Shadows-on-speed instrumental El Cumbanchero for proof) and he’s on good form here with plenty of belly laughs to be had while your toe taps along.
Yes, the Toy Dolls are undoubtedly very very silly but that’s always been part of their appeal and it’s to their immense credit that all these years on the joke still shows no sign of wearing thin. For something to put a smile on your face this month, you could do a lot worse than Episode XIII.
Some may sneeringly dismiss them as a joke band but when you're chucking stuff out 40 years into your career that stands toe to toe with your best known material, I think it's safe to say that the Toy Dolls aren't as daft as you'd maybe think. "Episode XIII" is a big slice of fun and tuneful pop-punk and I'd recommend it to both fans and those who've yet to discover this band alike.