Toro Y Moi
What For? Album Review
Car Park Records
Released April 7, 2015
Genre: Disco, Indie Pop, Psychedelic Pop, Lo-fi
Chaz Bundick, better known as his stage name Toro Y Moi, clearly wishes he had been born in the ‘70s. While never stagnate, many of of his works so far have been achingly un-ironic, nostalgic throwbacks to the poppier works of the long gone decade. One could then try to call Toro Y Moi derivative and unoriginal, but this would miss the entire point of what Toro Y Moi is about. His music is calm, relaxed; it makes the listener chill out. What For?, the artist’s newest album, is no different. It’s a fun and funky collection of songs that may not be flawless, but are what they strive to be.
What For? starts off with the sounds of a racetrack deep into use, for reasons someone more clever than I could probably figure out. These sounds segue into the first track, “What You Want.” It’s an emotional, deliberately paced piece, an interesting way to start off an album. Then we’re tossed into “Buffalo,” which was one of What For?’s two singles. “Buffalo” is, for lack of a better word, groovy. This song, which kicks off with a synthesizer, could serve as a fair representation of the album as a whole.
We’re next whisked into “The Flight,” “Empty Nesters,” and “Ratcliff.” “The Flight” is undoubtedly What For?’s weakest track. It’s not a bad song by any means, but “The Flight,” with its spacey sound effects and drawn out guitar licks, is the only song on the album that doesn’t actually put a new spin on the era it’s referencing. Fortunately, the next track is “Empty Nesters,” the first single on the album and the first song by Toro Y Moi with significant mainstream crossover potential. “Ratcliff,” the next song, is middling. With the exception of some fascinating piano work halfway through, the slow pace makes it difficult for “Ratcliff” to go anywhere.
“OK, the first half is over. Let’s get flat out strange with the rest of this thing,” is what I imagine Bundick said when crafting “Lilly,” the sixth composition on What For? This is not a bad thing. “Lilly” is really cool. It’s a dreamlike, barely lucid piece that demands to be listened to repeatedly. It’s hard to follow “Lilly” but “Spell It Out” succeeds by serving as a counterpoint to its predecessor. “Spell It Out” has some kind of ridiculous lyrics, but it’s more than a little funky and will be the favorite of many. And maybe it’s just me, but I wasn’t crazy about the following track, “Half Dome.” Quite frankly, this three minute song doesn’t feel like it fits into the album.
Toro Y Moi’s best album so far winds down with the de-escalating “Run Baby Run” and the complicated “Yeah Right.” “Run Baby Run” might be a bit bland and there may not be much to say about it, but it serves its purpose in getting the listener ready for “Yeah Right.” Without a doubt, “Yeah Right” is the most complex, sophisticated song produced by Bundick at this time. Tonal shifts and chord progressions give this song a hundred different feelings, all of which work splendidly. This is a track that twists and turns until it forces the listener to stop trying to figure out where it’s going and just enjoy the ride.
I sincerely hope What For? gains the popularity it deserves, but if it doesn’t, there’s no indication that Chaz Bundick will be all too upset. All of Toro Y Moi, but especially this album, assert that Bundick is solely looking to grow as an artist, to contribute more and more. Sure, What For? isn’t revolutionary for the state of music, but for Toro Y Moi, it’s definitely evolutionary.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACK:Yeah Right, Lilly, Empty Nesters
LEAST FAV TRACK: The Flight