Brewed as a pop-based mixture of house and electronic hip-hop, Toro Y Moi’s latest album, “Anything In Return,” takes a bold stride toward breaking into the mainstream and straying from the gauzy synths and muted vocals of its predecessors: “Causers of This” and “Underneath the Pine.”
The hazy nostalgia of ’80s pop music sent through a psychedelic filter — synonymous with the subgenre chillwave and Toro Y Moi’s previous albums — is anything but recognizable in Chaz Bundick’s, the man behind the stage name, latest full-length. Instead, the LP is composed of remarkably rich and catchy numbers that tickle meriting a spot on the Top 40.
The album is a mixture of busier, more charismatic and lyrically unmemorable songs that combat Toro Y Moi’s association with chillwave and bond more closely to pop music.
“Anything In Return” signifies more than just a third full-length release; it marks a change in Bundick’s aesthetic. Recognized for his creation of music that sounds like a daydream, this album strays from that classification and introduces something new. It’s a sincere attempt at exposing his versatility as an artist.
The album’s first single, “So Many Details,” sets the mood to any make-out sesh, working in the art of seduction through direct come-ons delivered through silky vocals amidst a rich sonic landscape. “I just want to tease your eyes, maybe we can check these locks, I just want to go inside.”
Tracks like “Touch” and “Rose Quartz“ are perhaps the finest two resembling the artist’s new pop-sounding intentions, though the two do so in still-alternative ways.
“Touch” communicates the widely identifiable feelings of being hurt romantically, a trait common in many radio-friendly songs, but does so by transporting listeners into a sonic lounge of emotions instead of a brief encounter.
Between layers of percussive bases, manipulated vocals and synth waves, “Rose Quartz” similarly exemplifies the pop brand through relatable lyrics of unconditional love. However, it communicates this idea by way of its blending structure of vocals and instrumentals in lieu of a catchy chorus.
The album lacks in overtly sugary tracks such as “Cake” and “Day One” which veer too far from Bundick’s vibe insomuch as they’re unbelievable. The line “I look at her and she’s all I want” doesn’t feel remotely legitimate to a Toro Y Moi album. The two tracks feel forced in the pop stream and make evident the newness of Bundick in the genre.
If you jump on the Toro Y Moi wave with “Anything In Return” as your first album, you’ll be pleased by the pop influence with a mild bubblegum taste. If you’re part of Bundick’s existing fan base, however, it may be best if listened to on a candy high with the intent to engage in tomfoolery with the comrades. Not suitable for solo trips on the crest.