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Toro Y Moi : Anything In Return

Chaz Bundick has indicated that he’s okay with the term ‘chillwave’, but it sounds like he has been wriggling his way out of this category and toward a more extroverted sound since the release of his previous album, 2011’s Underneath The Pine. EP's and miscellaneous tracks released in the interim have him appeasing his restless soul further, and impending album Anything In Return has been slated as his 'pop' album. After one listen, it’s clear that it has more in common with his dancefloor-oriented side project Le Sins than his earlier Toro Y Moi material, and is a well-judged melding of these two worlds. It’s clearly a bid to shift from a cult figure to a chart-topper, though this mostly successful balancing act between a crisper, commercial sound and the Bundick of old should ensure that his former audience come along for the ride as well as invite a new audience in.

 

Anything In Return is Bundick’s finest recording yet, with the first half of the album a near flawless run of songs. At first So Many Details seems like an odd choice as lead single, as it’s slower and more subtle than the majority of the album, though this gently drifting R'n'B cut with a dark edge has a heady, seductive power to it that stays with you. Clustered around it are direct, unambiguous party tracks, taking their cues from house music, R'n'B and hip-hop as much as pop music.

 

Rose Quartz has a hypnotic, circular feel, the sampled “I feel weak” vocal looping along with gentle house beats and ascending synths. Cola has a similar, dream-like repetition, with its lyric “It’s imperfect, it’s not forever.” The lyrics throughout Anything In Return are grounded, realistic, sometimes even pessimistic. This is not always in keeping with the wide-eyed fantasy world that’s the backbone of most mainstream pop, but this friction helps to keep it in check as a Toro Y Moi album. Even when things seem shiny and happy, there’s a self-conscious wink and a nudge within the pop trappings.

 

It’s only later in the album that things get a bit wobbly, with the overtly pop Cake coming off like a boy band hit gone wrong; the Bieber-esque lyric “She knows imma be her boy forever” is tiresome from the moment it begins. You can forgive that Bundick has never quite mastered the art of an album filled with songs that hits a consistent high when he’s taking such brave steps in new directions with each release. Rest assured, there are enough superb sounds on the California-flavoured Anything In Return to make it an essential soundtrack for summer.

 

BY CHRIS GIRDLER

 

Best tracks: So Many Details, Studies, Say That

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