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Timothy Pure - Island Of The Misfit Toys CD (album) cover

ISLAND OF THE MISFIT TOYS

Timothy Pure

 

Crossover Prog

3.38 | 20 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars let me preface thIs by SayIng one Thing: i've Been trying to figUre out what the odd capitaLizations on the song titLes might mean- neither nabokov type word gameS or internet/ hip-Hop culture references...if anyone can shed some light on thIs minor mysTery, let me know (capital "?").

The thematic focus of "Island of Misfit Toys" is half requiem, half protest; various disturbing situations that center around youthful protagonists developing personal and societal roles. What "Dark Side" did for insanity, "Misfit Toys" tries to do for youth, but with a more objective "Animals"-like observational tone. Whether this is artistic examination or exploitation is up for debate, but luckily this seems to present enough complexity to elevate it above 'after-school special' or Lifetime Channel sentiments. It's also quite a bit more character driven- like "Operation: Mindcrime" or MARILLION's "Brave", for instance...but this album seems to have depths that neither of those truly delivered.

The narrative is both realistic and impressionistic, with fantasy and ugly reality intertwined. Sometimes I actually wish the lyrics were a little more poetically abstract- they sometimes read like a nursery rhyme in a second rate horror novel- but it does match the unsophisticated nature of the children depicted, intentionally ("Finders Keepers") or not (the narration in "Hush"). The more stylized characters ("The Fly-Man And The Snake", for example) are similar to the mystic archetypes on "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"- not quite as enigmatic, but not completely one-dimensional either. On "Mia's Game" the portrayal of furtive, nascent puberty is more disturbing than full of wonder, especially with the music-box sweetness of the sounds and blatant double- entendres in the lyrics and narrative. Songs like "Tribes" and "Playground Politics" relate clique sociology to primitive clannism, without the isolation of "Lord of the Flies", but there is also a strange organic metaphor, especially on the opening and closing tracks, that relates somehow to the narrative cycle. The moody "Finders Keepers" overcomes some clumsy lyrics to provide soaring "Comfortably Numb" lushness that reoccurs throughout the album.

The vocal tone lacks emotive depth but is otherwise pretty good- a bit hushed and subtle compared to the too-common melodramatic prog vocalists. It is frequently reminiscent of Gilmour, both in lead vocals and harmonies- and often, guitar-wise as well. The drummer is nicely loose- more feeling than precision, but never sloppy. The overall texture of the music is beyond reproach but doesn't take a lot of musical chances- there is seldom any instrumental or rhythmic complexities or adventurous experimention, just plenty of rich, full orchestral rock flavor. You've probably already heard from other bands pretty much what they have to offer musically, but TIMOTHY PURE finds their own respectably individual place in the FLOYD-inspired neo-prog continuum.

At its best, this album unnerved me like classic FLOYD used to- the dark undercurrents transposed with the portraits of childhood are dangerous ground unless you can do it tastefully, and the band may actually have ended up implying more complex concepts than they originally conceived. Much of prog only reveals its qualitiy through repeated listening, bit this is a rare album that overcomes some narrative deficiencies to lay the burden of interpretation on the listener (like the superior, but still too often clumsy lyrics on "Lamb Lies Down on Boradway"...but I don't suppose the lyricist here was too busy with side projects to finish these properly). It's quite possible that upon repeated listenings I may realize I've been duped, and that the album really is more like "Operation: Mindcrime" after all; but for now I award this an impressed and intrigued 4 stars.

[One month later] Okay, after some more time with the album I have to drop one of the stars; the lyrics are still tantalizingly evocative (intentionally or not) but I'm more concerned with the lack of uniqueness from song to song. Even a concept album should have a little more distinction between movements. Still impressive and worth a listen, but not the almost-classic I hoped it would be.

James Lee | 3/5 |

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