Toro Y Moi, stage name for recording artist and music producer Chaz Bundick, has been an influential player in the chillwave scene since listeners first took notice of his single “Blessa” in 2010.
His latest album, “Anything In Return,” which released on Jan. 22, steps away from that chillwave background, and instead builds on a retro house feel. Somewhere between his last album and this newest release, Bundick has truly gotten in touch with his inner 80’s baby, a trend seemingly taking over the modern electro-pop scene with others like Theophilus London and Com Truise who have retrofitted their music. This old school vibe and the “less is more” mentality of “Anything In Return” gives it a simplistic, yet devastatingly catchy sound from which I, for one, could not pull myself away.
The first song on the album, “Harm and Charge,” starts out at a hypnotizing steady pulse, but with the introduction of the vocals transforms into a suave and relaxed R&B sound. It drags the listener like this through its entirety leaving him in a state of question, an appropriate tone for the entire album.
The thick synth production in “Say That” and “So Many Details” sets a thrilling background for Bundick’s effortless, almost lazy, vocals. The combo gives the songs a feeling of importance, but then again “there’s no reason to rush.” Every word sounds like an epic proclamation of love.
But then the listener is hurled into a spiraling tunnel of sound with “Rose Quartz” and he is not quite sure where the light is until vocals enter. This is a common theme throughout the album, but Bundick’s vocals are the road map, helping you make sense of the world painted by the avant-garde production.
Further into the album, it takes on a funky alternative R&B production with soulful vocals, especially in “Grown Up Calls” and “Day One.”
This a sound that would feel right at home on Frank Ocean’s “Nostalgia, Ultra,” but not in a Coldplay-suspiciously-similar way. Rather, Bundick has simply drawn influence from the up-and-coming alternative R&B genre. The only downfall of this album is simply that it feels like 13 songs, instead of one album.
Set to stand by themselves, each individual song is a model representation of creative production and emotional lyrics, but as an album they just don’t build off of each other.
But, I’m okay with that. Chaz is doing something new, and I like what I hear thus far.
I would strongly suggest you take a listen to “Anything In Return” and decide for yourself.
View the music video for “So Many Details,” one of the songs on the album: