Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return

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Often identified with the summer “Chillwave” movement of 2010, Toro Y Moi returns with his third studio album Anything Can Change. On this new record, Toro Y Moi is able to maintain many of the grooves that have continually made this project one to look out for and to return to, but the newly added vocal samples and vocal experiments can be a bit hit-and-miss.

What originally got me excited for this album was seeing the tracklist because it showed that Chaz (the man behind Toro Y Moi) had been developing songs past the three minute mark and was pushing more consistently towards four minutes. Development of his tracks have been an issue in his past releases such as Causers of This (2010) and Underneath the Pine (2010) where songs would meander off and lose momentum, without any sort of direction. However, this initial excitement subdued pretty quickly as the album only really produces a few likeable songs with the rest coming off as thoroughly underwhelming.

The album starts off really well with the catchy and very enjoyable track titled ‘Harm in Change’, introducing a promising flavour for the album. Surprising house influences filter through the track; a genre which Chaz has dabbled with before but not to this extent. The 80s vibe to this opener is a very impressive way to kick off this album. His voice and high pitch vocals layered over the infectious old school synth-pop grooves of this song works really well.

The lead single off of this album, ‘Say That’, appears shortly after and again has a dance synth-pop feel to it with an electronic edge as Chaz delivers clashing male and female vocal samples combined with murky piano cuts on repeat. The synth-bass on this track is smooth but the vocal takes on this are definitely lacking, with very forgettable lyrics. When we reach the song ‘So Many Details’ here is when this album begins to fall off a bit. A husky, but fluttering bass-line kicks the song off to a good start but an assortment of badly chopped synths chirp up over the hook, ruining the entire track.

At this point, the album is not a chore to listen to, it’s pleasant but the tracks are instantly forgettable and I could easily find myself forgetting that Toro Y Moi was even playing. However, the seventh track ‘Studies’ comes out of nowhere and has Chaz experimenting with his vocal range singing in a very high falsetto, the production on this song isn’t too bad but the experimentation on his vocal take was at least enough to keep me engaged whilst listening. On the whole the majority of the vocal samples on this album are poorly selected and executed and instead of adding extra dimensions to the song they just become a little distracting. The latter section of this album sees the production become more suited to an eighties or nineties boyband than an experimental chillwave outfit.

There are moments on this album where it does become enjoyable, for instance, the song ‘Rose Quartz’ is a sensual, minimal and understated track but I feel that most of the tracks are trying to attain the same effect as ‘Rose Quartz’ but find themselves meandering with no direction in a very lack lustre fashion. This album lacks across the board in production, vocal samples and lyrics which is disappointing because some songs showed decent potential.

3/10

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