Toro y Moi is the stage name that Chazwick Bundick uses for his musical expression, although when you’re bestowed with the name Chazwick Bundick it makes you wonder why he doesn’t just run with that. Only 26, Bundick has already garnered several accolades for his work as a musician, composer, re-mixer, and producer. He’s a sort of workaholic, and his output is very impressive not only for its volume, but for its depth and maturity. Anything in Return is his 3rd full length release that sees him exploring more of his soulful side as he delves further into the electronic musical realm.
If his albums have fallen under the chillwave or even electronic funk categories before, Anything in Return is an album that explores electronic house beats that provide the backing to his soulful stanzas. Chazwick is able to add these elements seamlessly, because he has a natural talent that can bring each track to life. Now granted there are a lot of tracks on this album that I wouldn’t be surprised, that when turned down to half volume, could perfectly provide background restaurant ambience. It’s just the nature of these kinds of beats, and coupled with his sweet soulful voice, it can be described as being inoffensive, which ironically to some musical aficionados is offensive. Starting with “Harm in Change” he perhaps is referencing himself evolving as an artist and person; it’s a catchy beat, and one of the strongest on the album. “Say That” picks up the pace, and adds some female vocal samples in the background to add depth to the songs which is what makes most of the album stand out. The beats only get stronger with “So Many Details” and “Rose Quartz”, he’s sticking to a sonically consistent theme here, and the subtle variety is impressive. Things start to slow down though, and inevitably start to get blander with “Touch”, “Cola”, and “Studies”. The beats start to meld together, and soon I start thinking about if I want to order something off the scotch menu, or if I should just call it a night. “High Living” is your standard stoner beat track that signals you should take this party back to my place and chill out. “Grown Up Calls” has a easy piano background tinkling, which is perfect to lull my brain now to the movie perhaps I want to watch later. Finally “Cake” brings some pep back to the mix, it’s a sweet pop track with the line “She knows I’ll be her boy forever”, it borders very dangerously on 2nd rate boy band material though. “Day One” brings back some interesting beats, but the ideas aren’t ascending beyond what was established earlier in the album, which brings the thought that perhaps the album at 13 tracks might be a bit long. “Never Matter” buried at track 12 is very infectious groove, with bigger beats, that make you want to get up and move around a bit, there could have been more of this earlier, but it appears the album is wanting to stay true to it’s chillwave roots.
Toro Y Moi is not exactly going to get a party started, but it can definitely wind one down pleasantly. I suspect though that presented live, these tracks would be fuller when hearing the arrangements at a higher volume, but the reality is these songs seem like they are suited better for conversation ambience. It’s intelligent enough though to provide some depth to what can be viewed as “simple” music, but Chazwick puts his personal stamp on a very decent third album.
– Michael Unger