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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Toro y Moi’s ‘Anything in Return’ a mixed bag of blended beats

by Madeline / The Michigan Times

By Madeline Ciak and Times Music Critic and Times Staff Writer

Toro y Moi plays a delicate balancing act with beat, rhyme and rhythm in his new album “Anything in Return.”

“Toro y Moi,” which translates into “bull and me,” is a multi-lingual stage name that Chaz Bundick took on. Bundick is also associated with “Sides of Chaz” and “Les Sins,” which are just a few of his side projects. “Sides of Chaz” represents Bundick’s stream of consciousness recording series and “Les Sins” serves as his experimental dance project.

While Toro y Moi creates a catchy and infectious sound through mixing genres such as funk, chillwave (heavy use of effect processing and synthesizers, filtered vocals and simple melodies) and synthpop together, “Anything in Return” has a darker and moodier tone than “Underneath the Pine.” Even though the moods of these albums contrast with one another, they still provide listeners with an array of dance-worthy tracks.

One standout track from “Anything in Return” is the track titled “Rose Quartz.” This track has a very intriguing opening; it starts off with the use of a synthesizer, and seemingly random place fragments of Bundick’s vocals. After the first minute or so of this song, a cleverly placed bass beat is mixed into the track. These two beats are melded together and then the beat builds until Bundick’s vocals are added in. It takes until the two-minute mark of this track for the song to progress into a catchy funk/dance combination.

Another standout track from “Anything in Return” is “Cake.” Bundick’s vocals are a bit more prevalent on this track. This track may even remind listeners of a standard rap song; however “Cake” takes on more of an electronic sound than most rap songs.

“High Living” is another standout track found on “Anything in Return.” Overall, this track has a murky sound and demonstrates background of funk; there is an ample amount of bass and sluggish tempo that creates a relaxed sound. The tempo remains consistent for the duration of the track, which adds to the overall mood. The distortion of the keyboard and synthesizer in the background seem too high pitched and become a bit distracting towards the end.

Overall, “Anything in Return” was worth the listen. The clever blends of funk, synthpop and chillwave genres do work well together, but may distract a listener from the overall sound of the track. Some of the backing beats and sounds are a bit too high pitched or sound out of place because they are scattered throughout the tracks.

Grade: B-

Other Notable Tracks: “Cola,” “So Many Details” and “Studies.”

Madeline can be reached at

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