Album Review: Toro y Moi, ‘What For’

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The South has more musical taste than mainstream media gives them credit for. When you look at an artist like Chaz Bundick, who operates under the moniker Toro y Moi (and Les Sins), you’re quickly educated that the Mason-Dixon line is or has already faded in the area of sound.

Toro y Moi hails from Colombia, South Carolina, and built up much attention for being an artist with a “schizophrenic” vintage sound jumping from one style or genre to another in each project. After releasing the dance album Michael (featuring the popular tracks ‘Why’ (f./ Nate Salman) and ‘Bother’) under Les Sins, Chaz returns as Toro y Moi to drop the free mix for Gorilla vs. Bear and his new album What For?

His latest LP opens up to the sound of speeding race cars and with a beat drop, the track transitions into ‘What You Want.’ The first track sets the tone of a late 60’s groove with an EDM kick and electric guitar riffs. You can hear similar vibes on tracks like ‘Run Baby Run,’ and ‘Empty Nesters.’ Meanwhile, songs like‘The Flight,’‘Lilly,’ and ‘Yeah Right’ have the same rhythms but the melody is more psychedelia-infused with Chaz’s echoing vocals.

The beats pick up tempo in tracks like ‘Buffalo,’ ‘Half Dome,’ and ‘Spell It Out.’ The vibes switch to accommodate a journey through great musical eras like the ’60s pop rock in ‘Half Dome’ and the 70’s and early 80’s R&B in ‘Spell It Out.’ Chaz’s electric guitar carries the songs in a passionate and funky way.

My favorite tracks are the funkiest ones like ‘Spell It Out,’ ‘Buffalo’ and ‘Yeah Right’ – the last track that hints at ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ by the Jackson 5.

On first listen, What For? sounds like one big mosh of hippie tunes that lacks diversity in the various styles of rhythms. After replaying the LP a few more times, it becomes clear that What For? is Toro y Moi’s musical essay. He’s pleasing listeners for a good grade while simultaneously showing off his education at the university of music and giving a statement about his taste in classics, his style and his musical abilities.

Toro y Moi has been known to draw inspiration from artist like Shuggie Otis, Daft Punk and with his supposed Scooby Doo references in past albums, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was influenced by Larry Marks and Austin Roberts for this particular album. But Chaz’s influences are more vast and deeper in music than mainstreamers care to know as he draws upon artists like Big Star, Talking Heads, Todd Rundgren, and Brazilian legend Tim Maia.

What For? starts off fast and ends slow. It has a combination of live grainy vocals blending in and is balanced nicely with a clean digital melody. The sounds have retro effects that don’t take you all the way back in time, but are reminders that good music existed as much in the past as it does today. However, ‘Spell It Out’ did make me want free my fro, throw on some skates and boogie at the nearest rink.

Toro y Moi continues to surprise me with his restlessness for diversifying his style resulting in albums with varying genres and subgenres.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Catch Toro y Moi on tour around Europe and North America this Spring.

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Asia Martin is a staff writer for Pop-Break covering TV shows and movies that make her laugh or cringe. She spends most of her daytime hours assisting Hurricane Sandy relief at The Children’s Home Society of NJ, yes people are still in need. In her spare time, she runs her own social media management business, Rising Dynamics, LLC and freelance writes. Asia is a graduate of Rutgers University with a major in Journalism and Media Studies. She loves superhero cartoons, films and Comic Con but continuously skips out on comic books #sorrybutnotsorry Follow Asia on Twitter: @ColoredIn
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