Album Review: Toro y Moi – Anything in Return

The sounds on chill-wave pioneers Toro y Moi’s new album, Anything in Return, glide through elements of pop, indie, hip-pop, house, and funk that are ceaselessly stimulated by itching, festering, fun textures that help set the music apart from imitators. Featuring intelligent production, heavy reverberant grooves that drop like bombs, and soft, lush vocals that cry and coo, this album sedates and seduces you with its hour of tranquilizing vibes and exotic soundscapes.

“Harm in Change,” as the album opener,  impresses with its glamorized style, enervated beats, and off-color dance elements. “Say That,” “So Many Details,”  and “Rose Quartz” pursue the sexier aspect of the album’s house style, with stuttering ,glitchy vocals taken from club environments. For these tracks it’s easy to picture their music video persona—I see the artist lounging on a Caribbean beach somewhere, singing smoothly to an ensemble of sleek, beautiful women. Meanwhile, “Cola” has a touch of forlorn delicacy, with a disconsolate bass, contemplative lyrics and beautiful instrumental interludes. “Studies” swings into upbeat falsetto, while “High Living” hypnotizes with echoing layers, querulous synth-brasses and an immersive ambiance. “Day One” is a little tribal, with a swaying groove and a vacation-destination vibe. “How’s it Wrong” finishes off the album with a comfortable dose of pop.

There is an absence of strong melodic hooks here, which, depending on your point of view, can be either good or bad for vibe-style music. Certainly with the track “Cake,” the album seriously missteps. Although the song features momentous, wrangling synths, the generic pop hooks and painfully boy-band lyrics (“She knows, I’m gonna be her boy forever”), effectively kill all the great indie-house vibes going on in the background.

Sometimes the tracks gain a swelling momentum, as though headed away from vibe and towards an epic soundscape, only to fall back into their half-roused languor.  It can be confusing at parts, but often these two disparate styles meet in the middle, and it is there that the essence of the album really shines through most.

About author
Christopher Witte is a writer living in Los Angeles, CA, afflicted with an unhealthy obsession for independent genres of music.   Follow: @WittePopPress

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