Toro Y Moi ‘Anything in Return' (Carpark)
Chazwick Bundick's prolific output as Toro Y Moi resulted in a time-compressed evolution, and his third album since 2009, “Anything in Return,” takes the laptop musician into laid-back, high-gloss R&B. The overall sheen and the beats-per-minute increase on opening tracks “Harm in Change” and “Say That” could result in a sideline as a track producer for big-budget pop acts, but there is enough of Toro Y Moi's signature swooning midtempo songs to keep Bundick's core listeners from defecting.
Chief among the changes on “Anything in Return” is diminished gauziness. While the dreamy textures on 2011's “Underneath the Pine” were key selling points, Bundick has retained the elegance but sharpened the arrangements and production. There are slight callbacks to old sound in the bright soul track “Studies,” but elsewhere Toro Y Moi is exploring bass-heavy slow jams (“High Living”) and a few tracks that strive for something close to pop perfection (“Cake”).
Notably, Bundick's highest profile fan is LeBron James, and it's easy to fall back on the idea that the Miami Heat star's patronage is partly responsible for Toro Y Moi's move toward R&B grooves, but the best songs on “Underneath the Pine,” “New Beat” and “Still Sound” actually laid the groundwork for the prevailing musical themes on “Anything in Return.” If late-night jams such as “Day One” and the gloriously bright, Michael Jackson-like grooves of “Never Matter” result in Toro Y Moi getting some freelance gigs building beats for chart acts, mainstream pop music could be better for it.
— George Lang