Some people would wonder why on earth a band like T.O.Y. (Trademark of Youth) exists, and so I would suggest they give this review a miss. For me, Trademark of Youth exists to produce brilliantly catchy electronic pop music that is addictively satisfying. There is no guilty pleasure factor for me with this band. Volker Lutz and Oliver Taranczewski have been inhabiting my Discman since I got this album a week ago based on the above reasoning.
Their debut as T.O.Y., "Space Radio" was a little shaky and not nearly as assured as "White Lights". Let us proceed onto this masterwork of an album, shall we? The production values have never been higher and the melodic aspect which hooked me to their sound as Evils Toy (yes, Mr Lutz who sings so openly on this album was the man responsible for many many killer tracks over the years in Evils Toy) is more prevalent than ever on this album. "Beyond Sleep" is amazing in its delivery and in its dynamics. Following that is the slowburner "White Lights" which continues to show the progression which Lutz has made since the track "Inside Out" on Evils Toy's final album in 2000 "Silvertears". Epic.
De/Vision's frontman Steffan handles the vocal work on the fourth track "The Sky Is the Limit" which sounds, well, like a De/Vision track. Such is the skill of Lutz that he can write songs which sound like the guest vocalist's own band. Very talented. "Long Distance Ride" sounds quite Haujobb-ish for the most part and I wonder if the fact that Daniel Myer is thanked in the credits is just out of friendship or if he snuck into Volker's studio to lend a hand on this track. The club mangler this time around?
Track six, "Fairytale" which is a long sugary pop confection that puts a ridiculous smile on my face whenever I hear it. T.O.Y. understand what chord structure is and more importantly they know how to write bang on electro pop music that is so hook laden and polished you'll feel like a trout on the end of an immaculately shiny chrome barb. This disc is extremely hard to stop listening to and is every bit as slick as one could hope for.
For those who buy the limited run, there are remixes which the band did for Bang Elektronika, In Strict Confidence and most surprisingly, 18 Summers. T.O.Y.'s version of "Turn off the Radio" is not as good as the original which 18 Summers created but it is a valiant attempt.
This album is a huge step forward musically for T.O.Y. and it moves them even further away from their previous incarnation. The last time Volker Lutz made this much progress was with the stunningly powerful "XTC Implant" album under the Evils Toy moniker in 1996. The darkness and aggression may be gone but the edginess and dynamic tension that are his trademark continue to evolve.