Toro Y Moi
Anything In Return


3.0
good

Review

by BrianE USER (29 Reviews)
January 21st, 2013 | 23 replies


Release Date: 01/22/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The ultimate cool kid soundtrack

Love him or hate him, there's one thing you can't take away from Chaz Bundick: he's never made the same record twice. Bundick, better known under his stage moniker Toro y Moi, got his big break during the height of chillwave, a short lived movement from 2009-2010 championed by a cluster of bands dedicated to making mellow, relaxing electronic music.

Unfortunately, the scene vanished almost as quickly as it arose, leaving its adherents scrambling for a new creative direction. Bundick's debut, 2010's Causers of This, could be placed firmly within the chillwave network, yet Bundick never felt like the type of guy to get pigeonholed within it.

Appropriately, his 2011 followup Underneath the Pine took a different approach entirely, presenting itself as a pseudo Saturday Night Fever electronic funk album. By contrast, his third album Anything in Return is much more energetic than his debut, but by no means as funky or bass driven as his last album. Instead, as Bundick declares, Anything in Return represents his attempt at a pop album.

He does a fantastic job at creating intricately illustrated mental images as evidenced on "So Many Details," which takes place on a Friday night with a special lady. He masterfully portrays his tingling sensation of anticipation as his mind wanders toward undoing the locks on her door and disappearing inside with her. Yet at the same time he is still trying to be a gentleman and respect his lady. His nobler instincts win out in the end, as he declares, "save yourself tonight, tomorrow I'll get you back."

One constant on all of Toro albums is its modern vibe; as expected, Anything in Return is sleek and sophisticated. This is music for the cool kids, providing the perfect soundtrack for cruising around with your friends on the way to some hip club. Standouts "Harm in Change" and "Say That" present a playground of smoky nighttime electronica; neon shapes and textures come whooshing out of the darkness, while a dazzling progression of piano chords ignite your brain's pleasure centers. "Say That" is boosted by a mesmerizing gaggle of wordless voices. If last year's Kindred EP from Burial had been warmer and more inviting, it might have sounded something like this.

Most of the lyrics are pretty simple, focusing on boy girl relations or just relationships/friendships in general. "Never Matter" speaks most eloquently, touching on failed relationships and isolation: "I think I let my mind go wild/ and I think I'm on the verge of crying/ It's the fact I'm not closer/ to letting anyone inside my life. Bundick's voice is plaintive, but very mellow and listenable. He comes across as likable everyman who is easily relatable.

But he begins to lose steam as the album progresses. After a while, the heavy emphasis on production begins to take away from Bundick's intention of crafting compelling pop. Despite all the elaborately structured loops and layers, it's the chords more than anything else that drive the most successful cuts. Unfortunately, that only comes to full fruition on about half the songs.

"High Living," with Bundick's stunning octave switching, is the strongest cut after the opening one-two-three punch. "Never Matter" and "How's It Wrong" are charming and engaging, while "Cake," with its strong 80s vibe, is one of the album's most danceable cuts.

That's not to say any of the songs are necessarily bad. The weakest moment comes on Cola, a repetitive meandering track that suffers from an overload of low end frequencies Yet Bundick misses a great deal of potential because he forgets the first lesson of pop music: it's done best when it's kept simple.

And so it was that Chaz Bundick created another listenable album, propped up by a few fantastic singles here and there. And yet, despite his well documented penchant for genre hopping, there is one other constant connecting all of Bundick's releases: he has yet to release an album that holds up consistently from start to finish.



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user ratings (101)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
BrianE
January 20th 2013


43 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Stream:

http://pitchfork.com/advance/6-anything-in-return/

alachlahol
January 21st 2013


7501 Comments


heard this was something to look forward to! bundick keeps it real by being black and a hipster!

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2013


23909 Comments


recommended by reviewer
Washed Out Within and Without
Burial Kindred EP


wait what

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2013


22008 Comments


say that is ok

I don't think I'll check out the rest

Digging: Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

bloc
January 21st 2013


34919 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is crap

JrmyPrks
January 22nd 2013


307 Comments


so hyped for this. I reeeeeeally hope it's good.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 25th 2013


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pretty chill stuff. Standard but it makes for a nice listen. I never was a fan of that whole chillwave hype, though.

Digging: Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers

Sleaper
January 27th 2013


3404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

such a gooooood selection for chill times.

Digging: Vince Staples - Hell Can Wait

rebel86
February 2nd 2013


132 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This was an effortless classic from start to finish. People's ears are broken here, as usual.

Sleaper
February 2nd 2013


3404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeh its pretty funny that it only has 28 ratings.

omnipanzer
February 6th 2013


21621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty standard stuff for him at this point.

Digging: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling

EaglesBecomeVultures
February 9th 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

first listen right now, did he make a pop album?

Digging: Iceage - Plowing Into the Field of Love

EaglesBecomeVultures
February 9th 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is really good

InfamousGrouse
February 9th 2013


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

...wait until you hear Cake

SeaAnemone
February 13th 2013


20527 Comments


this is the most balanced toro y moi yet, definitely his best even if it doesn't have some of the bangers of Causers

Digging: Pharmakon - Bestial Burden

Sleaper
March 7th 2013


3404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

saw this guy last night and let me tell you was it a disappointment.
i thought it was going to be him doing an electronic sampling sort of set playing all his new stuff... he rocks up there with a fucking band.. it was like being at some indie pop teenage fest.

took them 50 minutes to set up... the sound was atrocious, the band just made the whole thing seem cheesy and shit.



Negator
April 1st 2013


532 Comments


great album, it will certainly come in handy when playing cool music at parties

Digging: Swallowed - Lunarterial

EaglesBecomeVultures
April 1st 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

probably spin this more now that it's nice out, lots of sweet summer jams on here

Negator
April 3rd 2013


532 Comments


^definetely, cant wait for the summer breezes and the heatwaves of kush haha. THis album is inspiring in many ways, gonna get high now.

808muzik
April 22nd 2013


955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fuck, disappointing to hear he's not that great live. i'll probably go see him anyways though.

Digging: Vince Staples - Hell Can Wait



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