Chaz Bundick’s—the mastermind behind Toro Y Moi—musical output can be described as amorphic; he helped pioneer the chillwave genre in “Causers of This,” while channeling his inner dance music enthusiast through the side project Les Sins. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, at his album pre-release event, Bundick stated that he “wanted to make a pop album…because [he] really liked that kind of music with big studio-sounding synths and auto-tune,” because if it was “done tastefully and properly, it can be enjoyable.” “Anything In Return” neatly marries the hip hop funk beats of Toro Y Moi and the poppier sounds of Les Sins. Toro Y Moi’s production values have steadily increased with each successive album, and his ability as an arranger is evident in the new album’s beautifully retro-chic vibe.
“Anything In Return” kicks off with what is arguably its catchiest track: “Harm In Change.” It shies away from Toro Y Moi’s trademark syncopated rhythms that brought chillwave to popularity and instead opts for a steadier baseline accompanied by driving melodies and a palette of piano chords. Bundick’s airy vocals whisper over the rich instrumentals and finely-placed female vocal samples, creating a mellow yet groovy ambiance for the listener. “Say That,” another standout number, unites the best elements of past experiments. The rippling beat works busily behind arpeggiated harmonies in an endless head-bobbing sensation. Vocals take a backseat in this song, which accentuates the punchier bass as it takes center stage in this instant crowd pleaser.
The lyrics, “How’s it wrong / Where I want it / I’m only built to show,” pose a rhetorical question for listeners, as it asks them to search for weaknesses in the music in the album closer “How’s It Wrong.” Moreover, it reveals Bundick’s never ending quest to enhance his musical voice and perfect his passionate approach to composing enjoyable tunes.
Bundick presents 12 delightfully danceable tracks in a medley of club-friendly cadences and iconic synths that date back to his chillwave era. Toro Y Moi’s music is infectious, intricate and no doubt time consuming, and “Anything In Return” manages to underscore his aptitude for warm, inviting sounds despite taking a poppier approach.
Rating: 4.5 stars
-Neil Chua (Cloud Ground WED 7p-8p)