“Anything In Return” is somewhat of a toss-up. The third full-length album from Toro Y Moi, whose real name is Chazwick Bundick, takes a bit of a U-turn in terms of the artist’s timeline.
Bundick’s first album, “Causers of This,” familiarized the world with not only Toro Y Moi but also helped define the genre known today as chillwave. Bundick’s muddled and subdued melodies on his first album executed a collection of ethereal songs with addictive melodies, “Causers of This” to this day is one of the recognizable and accomplished debut albums from any artist.
“Underneath the Pine,” Bundck’s second full-length release, peeled away this distant layer. Considerably more upbeat and pop-y, “Underneath” altered our perception of Bundick’s temperament. Bundick’s music was wavering over more of a synth-pop sound. Indeed, “Underneath” was funkier and far louder than its predecessor.
Now, there is “Anything In Return,” which blurs the distinction “Underneath” and “Causers” created. Bundick’s voice is a prominent part of his songs on this album, reminiscent of “Underneath.” Bundick’s singing might even be more extravagant on this album. This is especially noted on “Day One” and “So Many Details.” Bundick’s vocals on the latter song are eerily similar to those of Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos, which hints at the band’s influence on Bundick’s sound.
Several of the songs on “Anything” are worthy of the level Bundick achieved on “Causers.” “Rose Quartz” creates an atmosphere constituted of ambient synthesizer, embellished with a sort of meandering melody line. True to chillwave’s style, mysterious loops can be heard in the deep end of the song. “Grown Up Calls” is another mellow song that, if it were not for Bundick’s newly found voice, would be largely unobtrusive and a prime example of early chillwave music.
Despite this blend in Bundick’s loud and soft styles that “Anything” exhibits, the new album reflects experimentation with somber sounds. “High Living,” for instance, has a texture that is lazily jazzy and perhaps harder to listen to for listeners attuned to previous albums. Regardless of any of his songs’ particular musicality, this quality makes it tougher to pin Bundick’s music as relaxing, easy-listening or even summer vacation music. Bundick has expanded his emotional spectrum on “Anything,” and perhaps a completely dreary record is to come next.