Review Summary: The Dig look way too far before they leap
I can’t help but think there’s some hidden meaning behind Electric Toys
’s artwork. It’s suitably bizarre and cute for the clean-cut indie pop image The Dig seem to be shooting for, sure, featuring a plastic man standing on a half-eaten strawberry cupcake, but the focal point here is the vanilla icing. The New York quartet are obviously warning the listener beforehand that despite all their potential, Electric Toys
is quite the vanilla, run-of-the-mill affair. Perhaps I’m reading too far into this, but I digress.
Passing from an extremely vague metaphor to a slightly less vague metaphor, dig deep into your high school memories, if you will, and recall that one shy kid at every single school dance. Afraid to venture out onto the dance floor for fear he’d embarrass himself, he just sort of stood there with his arms crossed on the sideline, bobbing his head up and down to the rhythm. Instead of blending in with the crowd as he desired, however, he just wound up looking like more of a fool than if he just went out on the goddamn floor in the first place. Well, The Dig are exactly like that kid-- plugging away in their personal comfort zones, never really experimenting or leaving the confines of electro-tinged indie pop basics, and Electric Toys
winds up suffering for it.
Still, you can’t hold The Dig completely at fault for their diffidence-- the tall, gangly figure of Emile Mosseri would be quite a bizarre sight on any type of dance floor, even if his seemingly never-ending supply of energy serves as the band’s heart and soul live. Mosseri lays down the backbone for the most of the record as well, with the rest of the band never straying too far from the steady blueprint of his bassline. This results in an extremely close-knit sound, which combined with crystal-clean production keeps The Dig running like a well-oiled machine. It also, however, contributes their biggest weakness in limiting the band’s chances for creativity and allowing Electric Toys
to settle into a lethargic groove far too early and often.
Still, it’s not overly difficult to develop a sweet tooth for the band’s easygoing melodies, and the first half of the record does deliver a few gems, but they’re generally limited to sugary thirty-second hooks that The Dig fail to build on. Opener “Carry Me Home” and “He’s a Woman” are prime examples, both sporting an impressive chorus that just isn’t worth the minute-long trip through nowheresville in the verse that it takes to get there. Electric Toys
does strike gold once with “Two Sisters in Love,” which blissfully floats through indie pop paradise, but there aren’t any other tracks that can come close to matching its magnetism.
True, The Dig make a few attempts to break up the monotony, most notably the shout-along classic rock vibes of “I Just Wanna Talk to You,” but as the penultimate song on the record it’s far too unprecedented and uninspired to work. And sure, the band does crank up the guitar on a few tracks, but it’s mainly for a bit of unnecessary punch at the end of a song and fails to contribute anything as far as quality goes. Electric Toys
is safe, it’s an easy listen, and it’s impressive enough for fans of the genre to somewhat enjoy, but it’s far too cookie-cutter and uniform to be anything more than a small step forward into the music industry for a band who had the potential to make a splash.