Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return

written by: January 23, 2013
Anything-In-Retunr-Toro-Y-Moi-Album-Art Release Date: January 22, 2013


After making a splash with his watercolor synth strokes and decadent beats, Chazwick Bundick, better known by his stage name Toro Y Moi, is releasing his third album, just one year after his last release. Bundick is no stranger to testing the musical waters. He’s already reissued a collection of seedy twee pop and performed swirling electro beats under the moniker Les Sins.

The musician,producer and instrumental is ushering in the chillwave movement and isn’t afraid to shed his indie skin in favor of pop inclinations. Anything In Return boasts a plethora of ‘80s aesthetic in its endless supply of sugary pop chants. This is no vain lunge toward the mainstream though, as the album manages to maintain integrity with Bundick’s proud indie stamp on every one of the thirteen tracks.

“Harm in Change” serves as Bundick’s statement of intent, which is that he’s here to reclaim pop music as we know it.

From dense overdubs to gleeful hand claps, everything listeners have grown to detest in pop music is rightfully rejuvenated. The pulse tripping intro, smearing layer after thumping layer on top of a syrupy drum groove, tumbles into a seductive call and response.

The opener is followed by an album highlight and one of the its pulsing lead singles. “Say That” will without a doubt become an indie staple for the year, with its echoic verses to the club rail chorus. Begging for a deliberate, approving head bob, and maybe even a piercing fist in the air, the earworm of its groove is relentless. The track remains true to Bundick’s chillwave roots, but imposes just enough to be remembered.

“Touch,” the briefest of the album’s tracks, begins with a spare instrumental introduction that could have been pulled from Flying Lotus outtakes. The cool ambiance is a startling halt from the electric snowball that rolls so steadily for a glorious run of tracks. Bundick picks up the pace at the near-half with falsetto-stretching “Studies.” Meandering through trilling guitar picks and dashes of Tame Impala-like psychedelia, mad scientist and groove child Bundick pulls out all the stops with fantastic results.

The album trips on speckled synth jabs and lackadaisical vocals in “High Living.” Bundick’s voice delves into velvety valleys, but approaches father-knows-best crooner territory as he shrugs through the refrain, “She’ll be living high / She’ll be living low / She can live it either way / I don’t think she knows.”

With each falter (of which there are few), though, Bundick manages to top himself with yet another staggeringly melody or beautifully simple hook. Allow “Cake” to pose as the case in point. Its dazzling compound of strong back beats with pliable synths envelope the lyrics in a wonderfully conflicted disguise. The lyrics “I can’t be going up to this girl, no / When I look at her she’s all I wanted” seal the song with a bitter kiss, forcing the listener into Bundick’s world of plug-in baby pain.

The album ties up ties up loose ends and tightens up the hefty, thirteen track body of work with “How’s It Wrong,” a synth-wheezing ditty that pulls at the common threads of the album. Bundick squelches every last lyric and groove from his creative inventory,  pouring it into this glimmering fight between reconciliation and reality. The track ends with thirty seconds of aural flourishes, gently nudging listeners out of the technicolor world Bundick has so painstakingly created.

What could have morphed into a gummy electro-pop Frankenstein is instead the crowning jewel of Bundick’s career as Toro Y Moi.

Bunwick has struck the perfect balance between Top 100 and indie; a stiff straddle, indeed, but an overall resounding success. Despite some glitter-clad hiccups, Anything In Return proves that innovation isn’t necessarily the invention itself; it’s the new interpretations, the unexpected impressions–it’s reinvention.

Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return tracklist:

  1. “Harm in Change”
  2. “Say That”
  3. “So Many Details”
  4. “Rose Quartz”
  5. “Touch”
  6. “Cola”
  7. “Studies”
  8. “High Living”
  9. “Grown Up Calls”
  10. “Cake”
  11. “Day One”
  12. “Never Matter”
  13. “How’s It Wrong”