Toro Y Moi
Underneath The Pine


3.5
great

Review

by Conrad Tao EMERITUS
February 8th, 2011 | 63 replies | 15,126 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chillwhat?

Although he was always one of its most visible figures, Chazwick Bundick never seemed particularly comfortable with being part of the chillwave genre. It's evident in his interviews - "I've kinda gotten past that sound," he says. It's evident in his music, too; his debut album as Toro Y Moi, Causers of This, was a crisply produced gem that had more in common with the instrumental hip-hop of Nosaj Thing and TOKiMONSTA than Bundick's peers within chillwave. With his sophomore effort, Underneath the Pine, Bundick takes a slightly different route, aiming for a more exuberant AM pop sound; the enormous electronic beats and thick synthesizers are eschewed in favor of Rhodes, acoustic guitar, and live drumming infused with a heavy dollop of funk. It's more convincing than one would expect, given Bundick's blatant pandering to the pseudo-hipster demographic - the album is streaming on Urban Outfitters' official website - and it's an immensely pleasant listen.

The strongest moments on Underneath the Pine come when Bundick's voice takes center stage. Songs like "Still Sound" and "New Beat" depend on their vocal harmonies as much as on their tight arrangements, and Bundick's croon evokes a sense of time and place that's vague enough to feel nonspecifically retro, in the best sense of the word. When the vocals escape the spotlight, the songs feel less focused; "Light Black", lacking a strong melodic anchor, simply meanders along for three minutes, propelled only by superfluous bursts of psychedelic keyboard and overbearing drumming. These weaker moments are at least partially salvaged by Bundick's excellent production, which is just lo-fi enough to coat the record in an appealing haze. And besides, Bundick has some tricks up his sleeve; the penultimate track, "Good Hold", at first seems to be a staid piano ballad, but then it hits a vocal peak and filters out, panning to one side for a crucial moment. It's a bit of a shock to listen to at first, almost extreme enough to make one feel physically uncomfortable, but it makes sense; written and recorded shortly after Bundick attended a funeral for a friend, the song is quiet and melancholy, and its production flourish provides a moment of catharsis.

It's a small pity that Underneath the Pine doesn't have too many of these unexpected moments. By and large, the songs on this album progress as expected - which isn't to say that they're boring, per se, just unsurprising. But criticizing this record for being uncomplicated is silly, especially since its loveliest song, "Before I'm Done", is also its simplest. The song opens with delicate strains of acoustic guitar before a gorgeously understated flute line enters with Bundick singing longingly, "He never was too kind / he never would apologize". Unexpectedly moving and perfectly contained, "Before I'm Done" is easily the most effective song off of Underneath the Pine, and its simplicity is instrumental in its success. So while Toro Y Moi's second album may be inoffensive and ostensibly less interesting than the cut-up beats of Causers of This, it's hardly an example of sophomore slump. It's simply the next turn in Toro Y Moi's musical journey, one that further reveals that Bundick isn't terribly concerned with the cultural trappings of his aesthetic - and that's something that ought to be commended.



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user ratings (154)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2011



17197 Comments


is this streaming somewhere? because as far as I know the early review of albums still only applies to
staff.

conradtao
Emeritus
February 8th 2011



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Streaming here: http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com/features/exclusive_first_listen_toro_y_moi

I am enjoying this album quite a bit. It took some time to grow, however.

AggravatedYeti
February 8th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Causers of This, was a crisply produced gem that had more in common with the instrumental hip-hop of Nosaj Thing and TOKiMONSTA than Bundick's peers within chillwave

I don't know conrad, he sure sounds a lot like his peers to me...

I'm liking this a lot so far too.

conradtao
Emeritus
February 8th 2011



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The only chillwave artist who I feel really comes close to achieving what Causers of This achieved is Baths...or maybe Washed Out.

SeaAnemone
February 8th 2011



19726 Comments


fuck yeah Washed Out (don't they have an LP coming out soon, maybe?)

and I'm pumped for this, will listen

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

kanecooper
February 8th 2011



630 Comments


prefer Causers of This and there aren't any songs on this as good as 'blessa'


but yeah it's pretty great

conradtao
Emeritus
February 8th 2011



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I prefer Causers of This as well, but they're really different albums overall and it's hard to really compare them.

alachlahol
February 8th 2011



7471 Comments


didnt this just leak? goddamn some of you rabbit fuck new albums

and saying that Causers Of This was anything other than cookie cutter chillwave is wrong. Bundick took
the formula used by Washed Out and shit out an LP in no time there was nothing to differentiate it
from the rest of the genre aside from it being the first LP of any of those artists

AggravatedYeti
February 8th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^ and that he happened to make a particularly good record in the process.
but I agree, Toro Y Moi sounds extremely similar to nearly every artist I've heard coined as chillwave.
save maybe Ariel Pink.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 8th 2011



10585 Comments


wtf is he eating on that cover?

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

SeaAnemone
February 8th 2011



19726 Comments


bleh Ariel Pink gross


AggravatedYeti
February 8th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

a clementine probs Xeno.

also SHUT UP ERIC : )
(p.s. ilu)

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2011



10258 Comments


wish i could nuke the chillwave genre

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

SeaAnemone
February 8th 2011



19726 Comments


umm you must have your days confused yeti hate-on-eric day was yesterday


and that's a bit rash, rudy

AggravatedYeti
February 8th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

rudy just has an inability to chill.
its ok though.

and no today is shut-up-day.
like for instance:
shut up rudy, chillwave is pretty great.
see what I did there?

kanecooper
February 8th 2011



630 Comments


ariel pink is fucking awesome but is not connected to chillwave at all

no way nuh uh

:X

AggravatedYeti
February 8th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah I agree.
I've just heard him referred to as such.

which is dumb, but, ya know. *shrugs*

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2011



10258 Comments


just an absolutely terrible name for a genre

kanecooper
February 8th 2011



630 Comments


haha yeah it doesn't make as much sense as fucking rock n roll or whatever

alachlahol
February 8th 2011



7471 Comments


a wave of chills i dont see whats so hard to understand



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