At my place of work, we listen to XM radio where there’s a list of stations we cycle through day to day. Sometimes it’s Seventies on Seven, or Ozzy’s Boneyard, or the dreaded Pop 2K. There are merits to most of the stations and sometimes I hear something I wouldn’t mind further exploring. However, this isn’t the case with the electronic dance music station titled BPM. What’s showcased on this station is the blandest excuse for dance music; the same house beats with phased out synths while some flash-in-the-pan singer uses metaphoric terminology to describe their unspecific desires. If one had never heard contemporary dance music, then they would think the whole genre was dead. Luckily for us, we still have artists like Toro Y Moi to act as the flagship for his genre. His new album from Carpark Records, Boo Boo, just dropped a little less than a week ago and is has already made it onto all this writer’s summer mixes.
Always taking the futuristic approach, Toro Y Moi’s (also known as Chaz Bundick) sixth LP takes his well-established fan base deeper into his own world. Overall, the record oozes influences from eighties romanticisms to fashionable jazz from today. Yet, Boo Boo still has a vibe that can only come from Toro Y Moi.
The twelve track album opens with the two tracks Mirage and then No Show that blend together seamlessly. The first, sets the stage and cleans the pallet for the listener, powerful rhythms that don’t overstimulate the ear and Bundick’s vocal comes a little later in the song right when his audience is comfortable. Without realizing it, you’re already listening to the next track, No Show. It’s here where you’re buckled into the passenger seat of the Techno DeLorean Toro Y Moi is driving. Over a heavy delay, Bundick sings about his gripes with a relationship. There’s nothing that should offend whomever the song is about. In fact, it sounds more like song is being presented to a diary.
The middle of the album is where Toro Y Moi’s lyricism shines. There’s a particular line on the fifth track, Don’t Try, That I appreciated. “Woke up only cause I thought I had to, person in the picture’s really not you” Bundick calmly states over the minimal arrangement. The inflection on his words hint at southern trap music but the emotion is clearly not of that influence. As I stated above, popular dance music on the radio typically has the same subject matter in its lyrics; drugs, colors, and music. Obviously these tropes are too broad and present no conflict. What Toro Y Moi does is introduce the humanism in electronica, a perfect melding for a genre that feels too cold too often.
My favorite track on the album is going to have to be one of the first singles on the LP, You and I (The other single being Girl Like You) As a fan of music first and a writer second, I’m a sucker for well-done hits with simple hooks, and this is definitely one of them. The subgenre within EDM, vaporwave, has finally peaked, died out and weeded out the weak links in its lineage and Toro Y Moi reigns as one of its champions, You and I being a great example of this.
Rather than bring the albums vibe back up to end on a high note, Boo Boo ends on a mellow one. W.I.W.W.T.W. is the introspective dance hit that will probably be the only one of its kind this year. Like a lot of Toro Y Moi’s record leading up to this point, going for drives seems to be a visual that comes up in the lyrics and sonic landscape. We all drive around alone a lot whether it’s coming home from a party or going to work in the morning. Bundick has just put the perfect song on his album to soundtrack that common event in the listener’s life by using the car samples under lyrics that vocalize one’s thoughts when they’re alone.
At the end of the day, pop-anything sucks. As any good listener knows, about ninety percent of what’s on the radio is garbage and a good hit is rare and special; the underground will always be where the cool kids are hanging out. So, is it the lack of mutual fans that makes your favorite artist great? Is it that we have to seek out our music beyond having it spoon-fed to us that makes it good? There isn’t an answer to this question but when we hear great albums like Toro Y Moi’s Boo Boo it makes fans question the status quo of music and, more importantly, genres.
Click here to see the video for You and I.
– By Mike Metcalf