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Friday, 25 January 2013 09:14

Album review: Toro Y Moi glistens and pops with 'Anything in Return'

Album review: Toro Y Moi glistens and pops with 'Anything in Return'
Written by Erin Frank

Toro Y Moi
"Anything in Return"
Carpark

Sometime last year, I tweeted that I'd really like it if someone could send me a list of all possible types of "core" music. I'd heard of grindcore, nerdcore and of course hardcore, but it seemed like the core family tree had the potential to be vast and ridiculous, and I figured the Internet could help. However, like most of what I put on Twitter, this request garnered minimal response.

I still don't know that much about core genres, and I'm also not 100% sure how a core deviates from a "wave." I do know that Toro Y Moi (stage name of one Chazwick Bundick, which sounds like it could be someone else's stage name) is chillwave, though, and I know that his Twitter is way more successful than mine.

As a genre, chillwave is the relaxed, ultra-sensate vestigial limb of the electronica beast, its lushness registered in sotto voce and glossy synth palettes. The ambience of Toro Y Moi's latest album, "Anything in Return," brings to mind the songs you hear in dreams. Scheduled for release by Carpark Records on January 22nd, its influence is cunningly understated, the kind of thing you wake up half-remembering and humming without really knowing the tune.

Toro Y Moi isn't only some spaced-out club kid with a little taste. As an artist, he's as influenced by acts such as Air, Stereolab and Neon Indian as he is by old school soul. "Harm In Change" is a smooth, R&B-rooted jam and is followed by "Say That," which opens like a jazz sound check and dovetails into what I imagine Apple might play in a commercial about their fictional robot-staffed factories.

"So Many Details" is sultry, funk-inflected synthpop and a surprisingly earthy track on an album constructed with primarily glistening, gilded parts. A literal example of this is "Rose Quartz," in which the line "Don't let me go / 'cause I feel weak" exemplifies the delicate nature of "Anything in Return" as well as its creator.

This example aside, the language on "Anything in Return" doesn't seem to factor as strongly as sensory impact. Toro Y Moi is lyrical electronica, but trying to pick out the words and regard them apart from the music is nearly impossible. They vanish into the sound so seamlessly, becoming the melodies and sidelining as supplemental rhythms. One track, titled "Touch," offers some of the most lyrical variety on the album but is arranged in such a way that each word is a tactile burst, dropping like fingertip taps on your face, arms and hands.

A coda of agitated keys opens "Studies" and then smooths itself into a falsetto verse, laying low until a jumble of discordant clangs and bangs explodes out of the bridge. It closes like a Soderbergh heist scene, leaving the next track, "High Living," to pick up the sly rhythm in its stead.

"Cake" is a deliciously lovable pop gem, bouncing up near the end of the album with a sugary hook and flirtatious energy that propels the uptempo quality of the rest of "Anything in Return." Combined with the elegant repose of the album's beginning, this is a release perhaps best summarized by one of Chazwick Bundick's tweets from last week:

@ToroyMoi: "Smiley face, peace sign, pizza, aliens."

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