So, what exactly is Toro Y Moi? In 2010, Chaz Bundick’s project was chillwave in a time where chillwave didn’t even really exist yet. The following year Underneath The Pine made its name by steering the ship just around the chillwave moniker, with a significantly silkier R&B feel, whilst keeping a finger gently on the pulse of chillwave. Depending on your mood, Underneath The Pine was a chameleon of a record. Now, three years on from Causers of This (QRO review), Toro Y Moi’s third full length project seems to have completely abandoned the chillwave ship, departing muddled synthetic affections for rooftop dance rhythms, shiny disco-pop, and pseudo-house bass lines and samples.
Early in the record, Bundick’s propensity for groove-able cuts is exploited to full effect. High BPM tracks like the opener “Harm In Change” and the phenomenal “Say That” are a less shiny alternative to “Suit and Tie”, for those of us who prefer t-shirts and five-panel caps to cufflinks and fine cigars.
The pace of the first tracks fades into a more relaxed fit, somehow without losing intensity or attention capturing detail. Budnick’s voice has played an increasing large role in his music, and on this third record, it’s clear he’s becoming more comfortable in his own voicebox. Vocals still are not the center point, but they really shouldn’t be in a record like Anything In Return. Despite its departure from chillwave, it’s clear that Budnick can weave a nice textile. His production chops are sharp as ever, and in an album with so much genre exploration it’s impressive that he manages to stretch without straining. At no point does it feel as though Budnick steps beyond himself, or his abilities, in the pursuit of something different.
Toro y Moi is a project that can’t really be pinned down. Anything In Return has music for lounging on the couch, walking the city, and pretty much anything this side of actual dance club fodder. The sound has evolved enough since last year that Anything In Return comes off very new without making you wonder if Budnick’s had an identity crisis. He knows exactly who he is and we get the pleasure of discovering that identity through his music.