Toro Y Moi
Anything in Return
Jan 24, 2013 Issue #44 - Best of 2012 - Grimes
Anything in Return is a self-assured, adult album. Full of determined beats, it's worlds away from our first introduction to Toro Y Moi, 2010's chillwave hallmark-heavy Causers of This, and a quantifiably large step up from early works comp June 2009. The shift is not a surprise. We were warned that maturation was on its way, as sole proprietor Chaz Bundick noted in interviews that his goal with the new album was to embrace sincerity while avoiding bubblegum. Like a high school student fresh from his first brush with Ayn Rand, Bundick has ardently kept his promise. In other words, while his third effort is certainly a technically intelligent outing, fun is not high on the priority list.
The complexity of Bundick's sophomore album Underneath the Pine (in which his pop leanings couldn't-by any stretch of the imagination-be termed "bubblegum"), has been left behind in favor of streamlined R&B tunes, shedding any trace of his idiosyncratic worldview along the way. "Say That" leans on the crutch of repetition, its dull chorus not improved by a chant that bypasses hypnotic on its way to boring, or a hype man that sounds smothered by the mix. "So Many Details" starts off strong with skittering high hats and funky guitar and synth lines. But like so many other Anything in Return tracks, it lacks propulsion, stalling out in its attempts to run the same race that DāM-FunK has already won. Even on the most sugary of tracks-the aptly named Italo disco-inspired track "Cake"-Bundick can't seem to escape the downward pull towards conformity, fizzy production taking a back seat to bland pronouncements about love and yes, another damn hype man.
It's nice to see Toro Y Moi strip away the reverb and Bundick come into his own as a confident songwriter. Now all he has to remember is that adulthood doesn't mean forgetting to have a good time.
Author rating: 5/10
Average reader rating: 6/10