Toro Y Moi — Underneath the Pine

This is probably why Baths plays piano now, Foxes in Fiction is suddenly a guitar-based songwriter, Neon Indian is collaborating with The Flaming Lips, and Toro Y Moi plays disco/funk.

Yep, you heard that right: Toro Y Moi, a pillar of the nascent chillwave scene, has released a sophomore album called “Underneath The Pine” that is, uh, funky. It’s actually quite good, but those expecting loads of reverb-heavy, optimistic jams should alter their expectations a bit.

You may think I’m a liar for a second, as “Intro/Chi Chi” is chillwave to the core, with distant vocals, vaguely tribal percussion and repetitive synths. And there are still some chillwave tunes here. But track two is the appropriately titled “New Beat,” and it’s funky. Like, ‘70s lounge disco funky. Trust me, I can’t make this stuff up.

Chaz Bundick, the musician behind Toro Y Moi, loves him some bass on this album. That’s the dividing line, as tunes with a heavy bass element skew toward the funk (“Go With You,” “Still Sound”), while tunes without much bass drop into chillwave zone (“How I Know,” “Good Hold”). Both sides of his sound are good, and the songs here are noteworthy. Whether Bundick’s chillin’ or groovin’, he’s got the skills.

The highlights split the difference between the two sounds: the Grizzly Bear-esque “Got Blinded” and the motivated chillwave of “Elise.” What this says to is that Toro Y Moi has a lot of creativity in the tank, and we could be in for a long, interesting ride following its trajectory. Recommended.

Stephen Carradini

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