Toro y Moi – “Girl Like You”

Toro y Moi, also known as singer/producer Chaz Bear (formerly Chaz Bundick), will release his fifth full length album next month, titled Boo Boo. The album follows Bear’s 2015 release What For?, which swapped out his signature hazy 80’s synth instrumentals for jazz, funk, and even psych rock, strategically taking his aesthetic back a decade. His latest single “Girl Like You” has Bear returning to his house and dream-pop roots, with an effortlessly smooth, slinky synth composition, a retro piano interlude, and a half-human, half-automaton vocal track. The album is, as stated by Bear, the after-effect of trying to find yourself after years of hard work and success in such a grueling industry, as well as what you want for the future. As a result, his new sound is darker, more thoughtful, and tinged with something just personal and mysterious enough to keep indulging in the search for deeper meaning.

Boo Boo will be released on July 7th.

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photo by Patrick Jeffords

Album Review: Toro Y Moi – What For?

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In his most recent studio album as Toro Y Moi since 2013’s Anything In Return (not including his album Michael as Les Sins), Chaz Bundick explores some different influences and techniques, pushing the chillwave necessities of synth and electronic away and instead brings in energetic classic rock guitars laced with traces of nostalgia. What For? seems to show a different side of Bundick, one obsessed with going back to his roots.

Opener “What You Want” proves right off the bat that this is not the same Toro Y Moi that gave us “Rose Quartz” or “Say That,” but one wanting to showcase more raw and jagged influences like seventies and eighties rock and pop. The presence of electric guitar and heavy drumming is everywhere throughout the album, with synth only placed for the slightest emphasis. It’s almost like a Beatles-esque psychedelic feeling on a few of the tracks, including the retro groove “Buffalo,” where Bundick’s vocals jolt and sway with ease. The album is all over the place with the implementation of some different instrumentals, and often times it’s lovely; for example, “The Flight” has a gorgeous piano interlude weaved throughout the metallic guitar and vocals, giving more dimension. The jazz influences are also heavily emphasized throughout the album, and these melodies are often pounded with brute force into the track, not in a negative way, but almost like a deliberate tribute to the past. “Spell It Out” and “Empty Nesters” are the two biggest examples of this, with “Empty Nesters” being more evocative in tone.

At times, you have to stop and commend Bundick for going this far and actually trying to change up his aesthetic, but at times the vocals and lyrics just don’t elude to the same persona. It sounds detached and never really deviates from the core feelings of jazz and complexity. Maybe this is what he was trying to achieve, but it seems he got lost throughout the way and forgets to express his true intentions for doing so. All these different techniques, instrumentals, and influences often times get tangled up and flow together, blurring the image I had when listening to Anything In Return. The parts of What For? that save it are the brief moments of honesty that can be heard in Bundick’s voice through the haze of funk and jazz, where I can actually hear the wavering emotions in his voice, especially in tracks like “Buffalo” and “The Flight.” One of my main requirements in an album and ultimately in an artist is whether or not they can remain true to themselves throughout periods of change, but in the end, I have to commend Toro Y Moi for wanting to branch out when he has been known to a certain genre for so long.

What For? will be released on April 6th.

6.0/10

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photo by Andrew Paynter

Toro Y Moi – “Empty Nesters”

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Toro Y Moi (aka Chaz Bundick) has announced that his new album since Anything In Return (and I suppose, technically his album as Les Sins that was released this past year) will be released on April 7th, and has released his single “Empty Nesters” as a little teaser. It’s quite different than his past endeavors, and is somewhat missing the nostalgic, hazy dream pop that enveloped listeners before. However, the implementation of jazz, funk, and retro groove that makes up this latest track is enticing as well, and even more so with the sunshine soaked guitar riffs and psychedelic synth. This only proves Bundick to be a contender with the capacity to continuously evolve his aesthetic, and therefore maintain his hard working reputation.

Toro Y Moi – “Say That”

220px-Toro_y_Moi_-_Anything_in_ReturnBy far the best Toro Y Moi song. The repetitive and entrancing synth beats make this a song that really calms you down when you’re stressed out. I had the chance to see Toro Y Moi at Austin City Limits (they were right before Phoenix, and we were all waiting for them), where I had never heard of them before then. The band name was really cool so I gave them a chance. Their other songs were okay, but this one stuck with me for some reason. It was just easy to dance along to. “Say That” is from Toro Y Moi’s third album, Anything in Return, which came out last year.

 

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