TOAD THE WET SPROCKET, 12 years old, of Santa Barbara, California died July 24 at home. Cause of death was band members’ desire to “move in different directions.” With a name inspired by a Monty Python skit, Toad the Wet Sprocket was known for writing ear-pleasing, catchy melodies with nicely layered harmonies. Toad was involved in a number of charities and was a very active supporter of women’s rights and victims of sexual abuse. Surviving are their albums Bread and Circus (1989), Pale (1990), Fear (1991), Dulcinea (1994), In Light Syrup (1995) and Coil (1997).
Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Coil is not a new release (it came out in `97) nor is it their best release, but it is worthy of a review since it was their last. Yup, if you haven’t heard, chalk up another good band to the long list of the recently departed. Toad has thrown in the towel.
Expect Columbia Records to throw fans a “greatest hits” bone in the near future â€“ in an attempt to milk Toad for a couple extra bucks in postmortem record sales. Fans may sniff around the edges, but won’t bite. Columbia brass will quickly realize that when you try to milk a Toad, well…
Although Coil received decent praise from critics, it was an album on the downslope of Toad’s discography. They hit their apex with Fear, their third release, and then lost a step or two with Dulcinea and Coil.
Coil does have some shining moments with “Whatever I Fear,” “Rings” and “Crazy Life.” But if you put Coil and Fear spine-to-spine, you would see how the best songs on Coil wouldn’t have made the final cut on Fear. This is not to say that Coil is a weak album, it’s just that Fear is that much better. It’s a plateau that Toad has struggled to get back to.
Coil still contains some reliable, breezy melodies expected from a Toad release. Some songs show that Toad tried to beef up the guitars a bit, but there still seems to be a lack of passion on the majority. Lead singer Glen Phillips, who owns one of the purest voices in rock music, seems defused on this one. His explosive voice that sent Fear platinum with songs like “Walk on the Ocean” and “All I Want,” is often held back on Coil. The strength of his voice is the strength of Toad the Wet Sprocket. When he’s not all there, they sound a lot like a bunch of other bands. Just a California foursome with a name no one understands.