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[Off The Record]
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In terms of personnel, Toyboat are the grown-up and stripped-down version of O Positive. The line-up has kicked around in various forms since O Positive called it quits in 1994; it grew out of frontman Dave Herlihy’s acoustic gigs and now comprises Herlihy, drummer Ken Hickey and bassist Dave Ingham. So, really, it’s O Positive without the two guitarists.

A casual fan might come into Toyboat’s new Problem expecting something quiet and acoustic. Instead you get the killer garage-rock song that O Positive were always promising: " No Other One " is a raw, hooky rocker, and it defines the sound of the album. Herlihy hasn’t abandoned the emotive vocals that were always his trademark, but he’s learned to simplify. As a guitarist he’s not as accomplished as the guys who left, but he turns that into a plus: his solo on " Do You Get It? " has a goofy, going-for-it quality. And his new songs avoid O Positive’s tricky arrangements and get straight to the point: even on a more arranged number, like the soft-then-loud " Bliss, " it’s all about serving the mood and setting up the hook. Overall, the album is the polar opposite of O Positive’s last studio release, the despairing Home Sweet Head — and damned if " She’s Dead " doesn’t sound like the Replacements on a really drunk night. If you didn’t love O Positive, you’ll be pleasantly surprised; if you did, you won’t find a whole lot missing.


Issue Date: June 28 - July 5, 2001

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