Reviews Toys That Kill Sentimental Ward

Toys That Kill

Sentimental Ward

It’s nice when your favorite bands surprise you. It took six years for Fambly 42), so I wasn’t ready for Sentimental Ward yet (though apparently it’s already been another four years). Fambly 42 acted like no time had passed and the same holds true here, on Toys That Kill’s fifth full-length release. The four-piece continues playing off kilter pop punk with rhythmic chanty choruses and upbeat sunny vibes that counter the semi-bitter lyrics. It’s pogo punk, music to keep bouncing to regardless of theme or subject. Co-frontman and guitarist Todd Congelliere has a knack for saccharine sweet melodies and a penchant for abstract metaphor, not to mention an affinity for using cutesy imagery like kittens and puppies to further the point.

This clean pop mixed with almost a wtf lyrical abstraction is well on display in “Hidden Track” (the 13th of 16 songs), seemingly it is about bestiality but – one can only hope – not really. Title track “Sentimental Ward” is brilliantly beat heavy with drummer Jimmy Felix leading the way over a perfectly timed playful two minutes. Instead of the crest and fall mosh-tone of much punk, Toys That Kill would rather bounce and sway for the duration of the record with a few punctuated shout-out moments spattered throughout. There are some dreamy undertones like the semi-surf opening guitar of “Silent War,” which rises into a swell but is always sunny instead of swarming. It’s encompassing music that only seems to lift up instead of bog down or throw punches.

On the whole, Sentimental Ward is exactly what one expects of Toys That Kill at this point, some twenty-five years into their (F.Y.P-included) timeline. It’s forceful and memorable, easy to singalong with (even on the first listen) and it just makes you smile. Congelliere and co-vocalist Sean Cole don’t reinvent anything here but the 16 songs also show that nothing has been lost. The talk-over vocals at the end of “Four String” (a standout on the record other than that vocal inclusion) aren’t a favorite moment, and at times this album feels maybe a little more “clean,” than Fambly 42 or its predecessors but it’s another great addition to the TTK canon. Songs like “War on Words,” “Hidden Track,” “Flypaper to Psycho,” “The Constant Belly Up,” and more fit in nicely alongside their classics.

8.4 / 10Loren
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