Toro Y Moi reminds me of a Portlandia character. He’s a graphic designer and electronic musician. At the age of 26, he’s releasing his third studio album, Anything in Return. There’s also a half a dozen EPs and handful of remixes on his discography pushing it towards the brink of show-off status. As Toro Y Moi, his work has mostly been lumped into the late 2000s chillwave genre, which in and of itself forms a sentence that could qualify him for Portlandic comparisons, but there’s also the unclassifiable stream-of-consciousness recordings he released through his “Sides of Chaz” project. His real name is Chaz Bundick, for fuck’s sake. That’s the kind of moniker most of us aren’t even creative enough to consider as a nom de plume. Unlike a Portlandia character, Bundick has talent to burn. Way more than enough to avoid ever being an ironic punchline.
Those talents are in full display on Anything in Return, where his ever-evolving modern pop pastiche has found an eclectic mix that’s at times both controlled and chaotic. Throughout the album, Bundick’s silken vocals and the synthy pulse of his arrangements risk lulling the listener into a sort of pseudo-engaged state, where you’re feeling the music, but not hearing it, the songs bleeding into one another. What keep it from simply being a well-crafted collection of mildly catatonic funk are the idiosyncratic electronic flourishes and intrusively asymmetric builds. In other words, at times it feels like he’s consciously keeping you from getting too comfortable with the sound.
There aren’t specific songs on Anything in Return that function as stand-out moments, as much as the whole album functions as one long moment that stands out for its post-modern, semi-nostalgic originality. An album best listened to as an album, on vinyl both sides could play out any late night party. Even without physical contact, a few of the guests might wake up pregnant.