Toro y Moi, also known as Chaz Bundick, is perhaps one of the bigger names in the Indie Pop and Electronic circuit. His debut was in 2010 with “Causers of This” and he has just come out with his new album, “What For?” In the last five years, Bundick has not only released four great albums under the Toro y Moi moniker but also has played festivals worldwide, and even performed at the Boiler Room, the online club show.
His albums, for the most part, fall under the genre of Chillwave; a perfectly accurate description in my opinion. His newest album though is supposed to be an Indie Rock album. I’m really not quite sure that is the best genre to put this album under. To me, it sounded like Weezer going for a more psychedelic and, at times, disco vibe.
His first single he came out with for the album, “Empty Nesters”, was a strong start. It was nostalgic and went as far back as looking at our high school years. Talking about the stressors and emptiness we might feel when we finally take that step of leaving our parent’s nest and going off to college or moving out. “Did you meet with your advisor?/Do you still draw in the margins?” that line shot me all the way back to my personal hell, high school. The endless counselor meetings with them asking, “Where do you want to go for college?”, “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?” The questions no 17 year old kid can answer.
“Lilly” starts out as a funky homage to the 70’s kind of like something you would hear in a cheesy action film as the main character prepares to jump out of the closet and attack his arch-nemesis. He then goes into a more classic Toro y Moi sound, which is very soothing and dreamy. He is able to captivate my attention and almost make me feel like I’m in a dream with his “ahh’s” that sound very far away and as if they are echoing. The feeling of being far away in his tone matches the concept of the song. Bundick does not feel that anything changes, and no one can get anywhere. We stay stagnant our whole lives. “Everyday is like this/No one gets nowhere.” That lyric was hard to swallow, considering how successful Bundick has been in the last 5 years. It’s astonishing and surprising to see someone who seems to have it all not feel like they have progressed.
The first thing that popped into my head when I heard “Buffalo” was, “Damn! this song is foxy.” It makes you want to grow out an afro, get some clunky platforms, put on a jumper and go dance in a room dimly light with a disco ball on overdrive. Bundick said that this was the song that pulled him out of his writers block and gave him the inspiration for the entire album. It’s my personal favorite off the album, and I think the strongest. He once again reminisces on the struggles of being young, and the adversity that he might even be going through himself.
Like the album title, what are we living for? What is ahead of us and what do we have in store? He asks questions that anyone in their early twenties wonders. Bundick himself might be struggling with what it is he is actually doing. He switches his sound with every single album, and although it is good I don’t think he ever gets comfortable with one particular genre. Maybe if he comes out with another album like “What For?” it will sound even more consistent and hermetic. Or even if he goes back to doing something more Pop-like and Electronic. Bundick is a great indie artist and I think he just needs to find his perfect sound. We may then be hearing different lyrics that may not make us think about those burdening questions we try to avoid as often as possible.