SixToes are one of those bands which have the potential to be so popular among the indie/folk rock crowd yet for some reason they're still under the hidden treasure tag.
I came across the British chamber folk sextet around their string of remixes for then label-mates Depeche Mode (mainly for the Sounds of the Universe (2009) but their first collaboration can be traced back to 2005's "Playing The Angel"). What is striking about their versions was that they stripped them to the bone of their krautrock layers and turned them into a completely different kind of beast, like the original was never there and their interpretations are what it counts. Depeche Mode return the favor with a guest-spot by Dave Gahan on the cassette-released "Low Guns" – the first single off their second album "The Morning After", issued six years after 'Trick of The Night'. Happily, they seem to have made the best during the gap.
The album makes for a perfect home-at-midnight listening and somehow it's both dreamy and perfectly balanced. Loss of innocence, abusive relationships and the bleakness of the British landscape are quoted as the major themes and inspirations around which the record evolves. Similar mixture of dread, confusion and melancholy is represented by the cover art, created by Tom Lamprell, who as the band is Norfolk-based.
Apart from "Low Guns", Gareth Jones, the legendary founder of Mute Records with a CV that includes everybody from Madness and John Foxx to Erasure and Wire, is behind the mixing desk for two more songs - "Pedestal" and "Zen Box", perhaps the higlights of this record.
It's an album which is going to cure your withdrawal from the lack of new Beirut album and it's also a nice companion to Goldfrapp's 2013 masterpiece Tales of Us if you're looking for a similar experience. Some elements of SixToes' music echo Matt Elliott and The Radio Dept. but it's unfair to make too much comparisons – the band obviously has a very strong identity.
En bref, The Morning After is probably the best album of 2014 that your Pitchfork-reading friends won't be talking about.
The Morning After is out on Toe Records.