Toro y Moi shifts direction on second full-length.
Given the resounding success of his 2010 debut album, one might have expected Toro Y Moi (real name Chaz Bundick) to follow suit on his second release with a similar brand of hip hop–influenced chillwave. But on his new full–length LP, Underneath the Pine, Bundick displays little interest in creating more of the same. Instead, the Toro mastermind experiments with a new realm of funk–infused chillwave that promises to deliver a fresh batch of fans, but may also leave listeners pining for the beatific sample–based style of the first LP.
“Intro/Chi–Chi” opens the album with an arpeggiated dreamscape cascading atop a series of pulsing synth chords and metronomic ticking noises. Cloudy as it may be at the start, the album quickly picks up with “New Beat,” fusing an 80s space–funk synth lead with powerful bass grooves to create a sound reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. And tracks “Got Blinded” and “How I Know” both juxtapose staccato chord progressions with crooning vocal harmonies that recall the shimmering aesthetic of the Beach Boys and the harmonic dynamism of Local Natives.
However, while songs like “Go With You” and “Still Sound” possess the groovy synth–pop feel that Bundick strives for on the album, other like “Divina” and “Good Hold” fall short of capturing the same energy. The album becomes monotonous at points, with seemingly minimal attention being paid to the cohesiveness of melodic phrases and transitions. And with no track really rising above the rest, it seems destined to become yet another obscure sophomore effort.
Sounds Like: Experimental space–funk
99–Cent Download: “New Beat”
Good For: Road tripping