Chaz Bundick's done with chillwave, the lo-fi, underwater synth-pop fad that propelled his Toro y Moi project to hipster-blog stardom. Promoting his sprawlnig third album, Bundick claims he's taking a stab at legitimate pop, albeit a version filtered through his warped, heavily progressive lens. Really, though, he's just upgraded his chillwave whip for a flashier new model. Bundick's always been the headiest of his chillwave peers, blending jazzy chord changes, proggy sound collisions, and new-age funk, but on Anything in Return, he no longer treats "fidelity" like a dirty word, and he only sounds stoned a third of the time. In fact, the less Bundick sounds like he's bobbing for apple-bongs, the more visceral and engaging his music gets. "So Many Details" is his masterpiece as a producer, venturing into Flying Lotus territory with space-jazz organ flourishes and spastic electro-prog synth-bass; "Cola," meanwhile, is a close runner-up — more woozy synths and lounge-piano trills, punctuated by violent hi-hat blasts. Anything in Return is also his most melodic album. In the past, his vocals felt like weed-haze placeholders, but here, he's upped his hook game by leaps and bounds, with subtle, smart choruses that leave you stroking your chin and wiggling your ass. On "Rose Quartz," his silky falsetto shines brightest, milking its "I feel weak!" chorus into a lite-funk coma. Occasionally, the slickness is generic, as on the Bieber-esque synth-pop of "Cake," or the offensively inoffensive "Say That," which sounds like the mixtape shit you hear while browsing the Abercrombie and Fitch clearance racks. No worries — these are small sacrifices in pursuit of a higher, funkier, friendlier calling.
RYAN REED » RREED6128@HOTMAIL.COM
TORO Y MOI + WILD BELLE + DOG BITE:: Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston :: February 15 @ 8 pm :: 18+ :: $20