The Island of Misfit Toys are an indie rock writer's dream: young as fuck, scrappy as fuck, ambitious as fuck, midwest as fuck, with plenty of genetic touchstones to throw around for when you're feeling lazy. TIoMT is the brainchild of 19 year old brainchild Anthony Sanders. If you actively miss the heyday of Chicago's indie rock dominance (or were born in the 90's and pretend to), and/or just like well crafted songs chances are you'll find a lot to love here.
Like most prodigies, Sanders has been watching closely: he uses all the tricks in the book but they feel so intuitive and well-executed that it's still ultra exhilarating to watch. "Beginnings of a Beard," a song off their upcoming debut Bear Hair, starts off as a pretty straight indie rock homage to an Oaklandazulasylum era Why? song- distorted heavy backbeat, hallucinatory musings, not-really-sung but not-really-spoken vocals. Then at a certain point (SPOILER ALERT), the lingering organ dies out, and the guitars come to life. Sanders goes into young rock star mode, tumbling through an ecstatic monologue as the songs threatens to explode into some insane post-rock climax. Opting to hover tantalizingly instead, the song doesn't explode. Sanders cuts the cord, and puts the cards back in his deck.
Sanders' writing and delivery often sounds like that of a kid who used to be in emo punk bands who graduated to twee punk just as his horns began to sprout. The existence of Los Campesinos! makes this transition much easier: Sanders gets to keep all the naked emoting, sardonicism, and bleak romantics, but fused with more complicated songcraft and much lusher instrumentation. Maybe that's the natural order of things! It feels good!
TIoMT has all the elements and reach of a complete package. It's self-effacing, but it's not afraid to triumph. The songs focus on the little details, but while trying to change your life. If TIoMT kept it's current form, it would still be a excellent listen. But Sanders is so young and so clearly hungry, that it's as much what is already on the table as it what's being hinted at that makes this project so excting.
The Island of Misfit Toys will be playing with Water House and Yukon Blonde on April 10th at The Beat Kitchen.