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Placing Chaz Bundick (aka Toro Y Moi) within the genre-specific term ‘chillwave’ seems a bit restrictive nowadays. Anything in Return marks a particularly prolific period in his musical output, and has been described – even by the man himself – as his ‘pop’ album, although such a description is similarly restrictive and short-sighted. ‘Chillwave’ and ‘pop’ are nuanced mindsets, often used just to set some emotional groundwork. Bundick’s third album as Toro Y Moi balances out these somewhat conflicting terms, forging his longest and most musically expansive album to date, weaving funk, pop, house and neo-psychedelic textures into some luscious full-bodied tunes.
Compared to 2010’s Causers of This and 2011’s Underneath the Pine, the production value of Anything In Return is instantly apparent. The album is noticeably well-produced, yet also feels quite organic, and is in no way lacking its own quirky characteristics.
Harm in Change rolls around in a lot of low-end, foreshadowing Bundick’s continuous use of deep bass and pulsing percussion throughout the record. However, it’s his ability to maturely explore identifiable themes that saves Anything in Return from becoming too invested in its own sonic luxuriousness. He muses over girl problems, college results, moving away from home, long-distance relationships, and quiet Friday nights, all whilst he questions, admits, apologises and wonders. There’s a lyrical honesty present, which breaks down the fourth wall and projects a certain degree of contentment and openness.
Anything in Return is also saved by its stand-out tracks – Say That, So Many Details and Grown Up Calls – that tend to overpower other songs like Touch and Day One, which could almost be marked as fillers. The swaying groove of Say That morphs into a house-influenced four-on-the-floor beat driven by a fuzzy synth bass-line, and the seductively slow grind of So Many Details is carried by Bundick’s unassuming vocals and a reverb-heavy bass drum.
Eventually, Bundick’s pop sensibilities come through strongly on How’s It Wrong and Cake. Although lyrics like ‘She knows / I’m-a be her boy forever’ seem slightly Bieber-esque, Bundick purveys a certain maturity and introspection that stops things from becoming too cheesy.
Anything in Return manages to map out the still-expanding sonic palate of Toro Y Moi. Whilst it does become lost in its own opulence at various stages, losing yourself in its deep and extended grooves can make for rewarding listening. Although the majority of the album is relatively optimistic in its aesthetic and in its lyrical content, it is not without its melancholic phases: Chaz Bundick’s work continues to maintain a balance between the ‘pop’ and ‘chillwave’ ways of thinking, between the stereotypically extroverted and the stereotypically introverted.