Prerequisite for getting the most out of Toro Y Moi’s Anything in Return: mid 70s and sunny; porch; shades. Preferably in Europe somewhere.
OK, ready? Let’s begin.
Chazwick Bundick has only been making music under the Toro Y Moi name for a few years, but Anything in Return is already his third original full-length studio album. There’s a lot going on here, so let me unpack it for you:
Electronic. R&B. Post-chillwave (DON’T call it chillwave). Pop? Retro. Modern. Smooth. Club. House. Porch. Sunny. Dances. Naps. Shopping for trendy clothes. Synthwiggles. Snaps. Bumps and beeps. Does that help at all?
Truly, there’s an unending slew of apt characterizations for this album. Most definitively though, Anything in Return is an album that maintains high levels of sensuality and complexity, but never loses its accessibility. And I’m all about accessibility, man. If music isn’t enjoyable, why are you listening to it?
Sometimes “enjoyable” is the Donald Glover lookalike (right?) Bundick dancing, stonefaced, in a meadow:
Come on. You love it.
The above video to “Say That” is complemented nicely by the below video to “So Many Details,” a similarly stonefaced piece that shows Bundick going through the motions in a lavish reality, as if to say, “Am I doing ‘pop’ right?”
If you can take anything away from the videos, it’s that Bundick is extremely self-aware, and he’s trying to graft the passion and brains back into pop music with great intentionality. The songs on Anything are accessible by choice; Chaz wants you to appreciate their richness, but he also wants you to get them without having to dig too far. It’s a significant challenge to be sure, but on this level he succeeds in spades.
And of course, if you’re going to pull off Complex But Accessible, you’re going to need a lot of atmosphere to get you there. You want atmosphere? HA HA HA! Chazwick Bundick laughs in your face. You know why Anything in Return can’t support human life? Because its atmosphere is so thick.
But really. As a sample: “Cola” is a Miguel-accented dose of seductive R&B, “Cake” has enough ’80s syrupy charm to be as sweet as the title indicates, and “Harm in Charge” and “Say That” belong in every single college campus Urban Outfitters in America. The rest of the album is pretty much the sonic equivalent of a trendy nap in the sun.
Let’s dance or whatever.
(1) Harm in Change
(2) Say That
(3) So Many Details