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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Life + Arts

Album Review: Genre change has Toro y Moi fans asking, ‘What For?’


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Though this may be the first time Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick is smiling, the departure from his signature genre is less than cheerful. | Courtesy of Carpark Records

Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick made a name for himself when he debuted five years ago with a unique fusion involving cloudy, atmospheric instrumentals that have since branded him as part of the “chillwave movement.”

Though the four albums leading up to “What For?” were heavily associated with chillwave music, “What For?” takes a distinct departure by using more organic instrumentals, subtracting synthesizers and adding unaltered guitar riffs. The change in style creates a psychedelic transition that surprises old fans and will be sure to invite new ones.

Even the album art reflects a deviation from Bundick’s musical history. Former covers were more abstract, slowly beginning to resemble a portrait. The album art for “What For?” is a blatant photo with bright colors and Bundick smiling – an uplifting image compared to the album’s overall tone.

The songs are enjoyable individually, but as a whole album can sound repetitive. Other than “The Flight” and “Empty Nesters,” the album suffers from a lack of variation. The constant riffs and basic drum beats make “What For?” sound like the product of a ‘60s rock band.

Though the sound might become monotonous, Bundick keeps the lyrics interesting throughout the album, proving that he can write for any genre of music. Among his songs, love and relationships are the dominant themes.

Though “What For?” is enjoyable, it pales in comparison to the rest of Bundick’s discography with a disappointing record that has me hoping his change in genre is anything but permanent. Hopefully Bundick will return to the chill vibes that made him stand out initially.

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