Album review: Bad Pollyanna – ‘The Broken Toys’

‘The Broken Toys’ is the second album from Bad Pollyanna and has been eagerly awaited by their dedicated fans. Released on the 1st December, I downloaded it today and I have to say, it’s everything I expected and more. A worthy follow-up to their debut album ‘Monstrous Child’.

Bad Pollyanna are born storytellers when it comes to song writing.  ‘Monstrous Child’ tells the tale of a young woman losing her human body, her soul being placed in the body of a life-size doll, courtesy of a mad scientist. Far-fetched, you might think but really, it deals with the battle for retaining one’s humanity and not giving in to the insanity of enforced circumstances (I think!).

The Broken Toys takes you on a journey into the deeper, darker reaches of the human psyche. Be warned, it’s not going to be pretty!

Define Me is a fantastic opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Already a huge live crowd-pleaser, ‘Define Me’ casts a spotlight on society’s constant pressure to conform, where subcultures are viewed with suspicion, derision and sometimes downright hatred. If you’ve ever experienced such treatment, this song will speak to you. “Ain’t it fun to judge/now you want my blood” sings Olivia. Pass the flaming torches!

Bionic Heart opens with a mechanical beat and sci-fi keyboards, reminiscent of a Blake’s’ Seven soundtrack. But then the familiar grinding guitars kick in and the song takes off in earnest. A rhythmic offering, Olivia sings the verses almost robotically but the emotionally yearning choruses offset them beautifully, representing the battle between humanity and machine.

Pull The Trigger tells the tale of a relationship gone wrong where one partner has simply had enough cruelty and begs for it to end, one way or another. “Take the shot.” begs Olivia. “Write your name on the bullet/be the last thing through my mind.” Powerful lyrics backed with a driving drum/bassline and powerful guitars. This is going to be a big live favourite, I reckon.

Hooks, with its twisted melodies, has a nightmarish quality and is the relationship polar opposite to ‘Pull The Trigger’ with the singer pulling the strings, toying with her tormented lover. “I’ve got my hooks inside you” she croons, adding to the disquieting air of the song. Olivia’s powerful voice drags you in and sinks its hooks into your brain till there’s no escape. Chilling!

Ugly Love: This opens, somewhat unexpectedly, with an almost-flamenco acoustic guitar line, catching you completely off guard. However, it feels like a breath of fresh air after ‘Hooks’. With a deliciously dancey rhythm. Ugly Love is actually a thing of beauty. It’s got one of those sing-a-long choruses that are made to be belted out at full volume but retains Bad Pollyanna’s trademark hard-rock guitar lines.

Create Me: This is going to be another live anthem. Classic Bad Pollyanna at its best. Driving guitars, relentless drums and Olivia’s magnificent voice combine in this darkly compelling song with a big chorus to lift it. One that will grow on you after a few listens.

The opening of Blood and Rust puts me in mind of a Depeche Mode track. It’s got a brooding, electronic sound mixed with disquieting lyrics about a dysfunctional relationship that soon builds to an emotional climax. “Misery is my lover” wails Olivia, threatening to break your heart. You can’t listen to this and not feel for her. Beautifully disturbing or disturbingly beautiful? You decide.

Out of My Mind is an up-tempo tune which is made to be played loud. Opening with an almost funky bassline, stacks of guitars and drums accompany Olivia’s tormented vocals as she battles for her sanity. “Get me out of my mind” she pleads as the chorus hurtles along at breakneck speed, building to a tormented climax that leaves you breathless.

The title track, The Broken Toys starts off sounding like a music box theme but quickly descends into darkness with lyrics about rejection, ill treatment and abandonment. This is no Toy Story with a happy ending. But it’s a darkly powerful song you’ll learn to love.

I See You: The final track on the album, is a ballad performed on acoustic guitar and is touchingly beautiful. The ‘Invincible Girl’ of this album, it’s a song of love and hope with Olivia reassuring her lover and promising fidelity.  Like exiting a dark tunnel on a sunny day, this song brings light and warmth after a dark journey.

‘The Broken Toys’ is available for purchase and download on iTunes and Bandcamp.

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