Anything in Return
Anything in Return is the record that Toro Y Moi is going to really break through with. Not because it is necessarily his best, but because the media machine has been buzzing in overtime to get him into the upper stratosphere of ultimate hipness. This process will be helped by the fact that Toro Y Moi’s music has become accessible to more than a select group of Pitchfork readers as his career has progressed. He’s added more genres (funk, dance, electro-pop, R&B) to his repertoire — and while this can be a liability in some cases, TyM has managed to make it on the whole a strength. It’s his time, and he’s ready for it.
ALBUM REVIEW CONTINUES BELOW
On Anything in Return, Toro Y Moi has moved from what was his main music form (“chillwave”) into less mellow mediums. Being a solo performer has its advantages, and it is clear that TyM’s albums are dictated by whatever direction the wind takes him personally. It is also an advantage that he has been so prolific so quickly, for such easy recollection allows for a deeper analysis of his trajectory.
On his debut full-length, Causers of This, Toro Y Moi (the one man project of Chaz Bundick) crafted an ideal combination of electro-indie-rock, complete with a perfect DJ persona. It was home-recorded, and it has that dreamy, staring-at-your-bedroom-ceiling nature; it felt small in scope, but big in ideas and potential. The minor elements of dance music that comes with any DJ’s album was always tempered by gentle guitar undercurrents, Bundick’s quiet vocals, and interesting mashups. On his sophomore album, Underneath the Pine, there were a surprising amount of disco moments, but Bundick continued with his dreamscapes, peppering in a few more introspective, solemn songs. These were both foundation-forming records; they put him on the map, and he enjoyed a good amount of critical success from both.
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Toro Y Moi – “Rose Quartz” (Live)
While both previous albums have upbeat moments and (more) definable singles, Anything in Return has a larger amount of funky, body-moving tracks. “Rose Quartz” is a favorite, and a prime example of exactly what this record is about. The tracks build from minimal beats, followed by the layering of electronics on top of each other until a beat forms and then repeats. In general, the structures of the tracks are looser, and the guitar lines are dimmer. TyM turned up the synths in a major way, and it really gives this record a different feel. Songs like “Harm in Change,” “Say That” and “Never Matter” would never have been on his previous albums; they’re basically just dance tracks for the indie-rock set, which was not Bundick’s M.O. until recently.
This transition in style succeeds 90% of the time on Anything in Return, but there are a few duds. “Cake” is jarringly just too much pop music, and “High Living” is tripped out to the point of exhaustion. Perhaps these dips are accounted for by too much change too quickly, or an attempt to cater towards a larger audience by spreading himself too thin. It’s an admirable attempt at growth nonetheless, and the album is FUN, but it will be interesting to see what happens to him once he is on a larger national stage.
Toro Y Moi – “High Living” (Live)