Review: Bad Pollyanna – The Broken Toys

Fence-sitters be warned… The Broken Toys by Bad Pollyanna will make you choose – love or hate, but there is unlikely to be much in-between. This album is driven by emotive lyrics from deep down; loss, loneliness, despair and despondency. But hang in there. As the album progresses, we see hope, finishing with the offer to those troubled and needing help. The Broken Toys is no concept album, but there is an underlying theme of anxiety, frustration, and recovery.

The opening track, ‘Define Me’, is perhaps the weakest on the album, and it’s no measure of the band. By the time we are near the end of the second song, ‘Bionic Heart’, we get to see a bit of attitude, and the hooks are in place. We move to ‘Pull the Trigger’, and it’s on. I’m hearing a subliminal, whispered “pull the trigger” and it reminds me of Metallica’s ‘Shoot Me Again’, which is no bad thing.

The next three songs, ‘Hooks’, ‘Ugly Love’, and ‘Create Me’ are all in the same vein, the backbone of The Broken Toys. The latter is one of the strongest tracks, and is the turning point where the lyrics move from depression and negativity, to standing up and moving on. If there was a song to release from this album, then this is the one, but in a vanilla world it’ll be a challenging listen for some, but we don’t listen to rock and metal because we shy away from a challenge, right?

Next track, ‘Blood And Rust’. I listened to this a few times, over and over and I hated it… then I loved it. Sad and happy, powerful and vulnerable. It is all of that and more. Shit’s gone down somewhere, and this is a retelling. I could listen to it for another 24 hours and spout more thoughts, but it is there for all of us to make up our own minds.

We then move to ‘Out Of My Mind’, which is a little play on words. Has it all been too much, and we’ve gone over the edge? No. Far from it. We have moved on, and the things that sparked all the angst are in the past, remembered, but not defining us anymore. So, to the title track ‘The Broken Toys’, which is a term used for those with a mental illness. This is a reflective song, comparing the before and after of the relationship. Perhaps the heaviest track on the album, it tells us it’s over… “I’ve moved on, and you were a tool”, but done with style and a neat riff that would drown out many vocalists, but not here. I can’t help but hear an opportunity for the band here, if they can churn out an album based on the drive of this tune, they are onto a winner – a sort of early Rob Zombie meets the Murderdolls – so no pressure! We tie a neat bow around this journey with the final track ‘I See You’, which should have ‘(For What You Are)’ after the title. It closes this phase of life and the album. It’s poignant, clean, and acoustic, which shows a confidence missing at the start. I’m assuming that this album was recorded over a few months, as we are now hearing a much tighter band performance. Whatever, the band has not put a foot wrong, apart from that first track which is the only dud in a strong outing.

Bad Pollyanna could have finished this with Pantera’s ‘I’m Broken’, and they could probably pull it off, but you fence-sitters should do themselves a favour and give this a go. If you don’t want the depth, go for ‘Create Me’, Broken Toys, and ‘Pull The Trigger’… and if you like those, start about four minutes into the second track. Sit down, and just listen.

Special mention goes to the vocals of Olivia Hyde, which are exceptional. This is a powerful singer, with clear tone and every word measured, helped by lyrics which have been lived. The mix helps promote that voice and it’s a wise choice. The band is tight, and there is a synth tone that pulses through this album, punctuated by throaty guitar fills that add punch and drive. Not my usual tuneage, but if you like music and you like to be pushed then The Broken Toys by Bad Pollyanna is well worth a listen.

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Review: Craig Grant

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