Coming from Columbia, South Carolina, Chaz Bundick AKA Toro Y Moi is a musician who emerged from the chillwave in the late 2000’s. Chaz is known for incorporating several sounds from different genres ranging from electronic to hip-hop that generates a unique style for the artist. In 2013, Chaz released his third album Anything in Return, one of his more ambitious and loudest project yet with a melancholy feel to it.
Chaz draws from a wide array of influences in Anything in Return. You can hear the funky beats from Daft Punk, along with hip-hop instrumental sounds of J Dilla, and with the experimentation of bands such as Animal Collective. The overall swirl of influences in his style leaves the listener with a unique, satisfying sound. The tasteful melodies bring forth a unique sound that could leave the listener in awe.
The first four tracks from this album are out of this world. The first song “Harm in Change” will get the blood racing. The bass drum starts off immediately at the beginning of the song. It brings in a catchy hook that starts off the album right. The next track “Say That” is definitely the highlight of this album. It is a mixture of bass, dance beats and synthesizers that will make the listener feel like they are in a dance club. For instance, when I first heard this song about thirty seconds into it, I was up off my chair shaking my hips like Shakira and whirling my arms in the air like a madman on fire. It was an incredible track that somehow possessed me into performing the awkward white man dance in my house. It was glorious. There is something about Chaz’s music in this album that held me in a rhythmic trance that was difficult to break free from.
The next track “So Many Details” was another strong single off this album. The lyrical content from this song really surprised me when I first listened to Anything in Return. Chaz suckers the listener into this album with his smooth voice going into his life on a very personal level singing, “You send my life, into somewhere / I can’t describe, so many details.” His relationship with the girl is so complicated that it’s difficult to put down in words through their long history. Throughout this album, you slowly start to understand the frustrations in his life through his lyrics. He shares these personal moments with the listener while the production keeps slamming in the background leading towards a unique listening experience. “Rose Quartz” was another solid track that kept the rhythmic groove bumping, bringing more remarkable sounds into this album. Even with some sadness behind his lyrical content, I couldn’t help but sway to the sounds of his tunes.
That was only in the first four songs though. Sadly, Chaz jumps the gun a bit too early. After those tracks, Anything in Return drops in quality. “Touch,” “Cola,” and “Studies“ felt like they didn’t go anywhere. It was almost as if Chaz fell into a musician’s version of writer’s block. These tracks weren’t in harmony with the rest of this album. They weren’t bad per say, but rather dropped off a bit on content. These songs didn’t seem like they fit in with the same dancing atmosphere from the earlier tracks. Thankfully, it does pick up again in “High Living,“ which carries another nice bass tune that rolls smoothly. The production transitions well into “Grown Up Calls,“ where he layers his voice into an almost effortless sound with the impressive beats synching in the backdrop. However, it falls again on the last three tracks mainly because they dragged out longer than they should have. The final songs “Cake,” “Day One,” “Never Matter,” and “How’s it Wrong” would’ve sounded a lot better if they were about thirty seconds shorter.
Despite these complaints, Anything in Return is hard not to recommend. It’s a hybrid album even with minor problems upon listening. Granted, it’s not a groundbreaking landmark for Toro Y Moi; it will leave you intrigued. Blending electronic sounds with funky grooves, Chaz brings a solid LP to this listener. Anything in Return may not be perfect, but it’s a wonderful step in the right direction in Toro Y Moi’s career that has me interested in what he offers next.