In recent times Toyah has seen something of a cultural renaissance with younger female artists acknowledging the huge Influence of her groundbreaking and uniquely singular career. Last year Shirley Manson of Garbage went as far as to write a moving, open letter, apologising for mocking Toyah to friends as a teenager when, in fact, she was a fan who “sucked at Toyah’s teat [but did] not have the strength of character to admit it.” Now recognized as a pioneer who’s remained defiant since acting in Derek Jarman’s punk classic Jubilee and her trailblazing uncategorisable debut album Sheep Farming In Barnet in 1980, Toyah sees this as a turning point and validation; she’d always been able to sell out venues, always had an audience, but never the back-up, feeling that in the past women were played against each other, in an industry where men made women enemies of each other.
That the world is ready for Toyah means that Posh Pop will be justly celebrated. The most complete, uplifting pop record of Toyah’s inspirational 41-year career, Posh Pop is a triumphant album, its 10 songs encompassing euphoric partying, redemption, glam rock, interplanetary exploration, industrial grooves, revolution, the fate of humanity as viewed by monkeys and, above all, anthems. Every song here is a masterclass in pop, condensing a world of wonder into barely 40 minutes. It’s maximum pop and it’s also classier than virtually any other music you’ll hear all year. It’s posh pop.
The album was made with Simon Darlow, who also co-wrote and produced Toyah’s previous solo album, 2008’s dramatic In The Court Of The Crimson Queen. They first worked together in 1977, brought together to write songs then again five years later when Simon played keyboards on Toyah’s album The Changeling in 1982, remaining friends ever since.
Posh Pop’s additional musician is Toyah’s husband, guitarist Bobby Willcox. Provided with just a chord sheet, he was in the studio for no more than half-an-hour a week. Told to do whatever he felt like, feeling free and completely spontaneous, within a few takes Bobby produced stunning guitar lines.
Whether channeling her glam roots on the addictive Zoom Zoom, celebrating the unity of mankind on the communal Take Me Home or offering solace in the achingly tender Barefoot On Mars, the only predictable aspect of Posh Pop is that a giant hook will be along shortly.
Building from simple acoustic guitar chords, Summer Of Love builds to an instantly catchy chorus, on a deeply ironic anti-war song, exploring the concept of women on the battlefield. Continuing the exploration of serious themes, over a refrain Toyah initially started on the piano, The Bride Will Return is about the tragic bride of Beirut’s wedding day, when the warehouse blew up, catching both the moment of explosion and Israa Sablani’s beauty. Space Dance explores our burgeoning efforts to begin colonising other worlds, wrapped around an infernally catchy chorus that wouldn’t be out of place in The Rocky Horror Show.
Every song on Posh Pop is accompanied by a video that feature on the Deluxe CD+DVD Edition. All 10 videos were created and directed by Toyah during the lockdown of spring 2021 and edited by Darren Shortt, inspired by the phenomenal success of Toyah’s weekly YouTube video performances with her husband. These creatively inventive videos were lovingly made at home, in the garden and in a nearby abbey. Viewed together they present an escape into Posh Pop, journeying to surprising places, virtual worlds, and Toyah’s kitchen.
The refrain “You’re never too old to shine” from the song Rhythm In My House applies to Toyah’s life and career. “That’s absolutely the message of this album,” Toyah emphasises. “It’s never too late. Life is about the journey, from birth to your last day. It’s not about doors closing.”
Written by Toyah Willcox & Simon Darlow Produced by Simon Darlow