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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: Toro y Moi

Chaz Bundick released his freshman debut Causers of This as Toro y Moi last year, a few steps behind artists like Neon Indian and Washed Out.

Bundick differentiated himself from his fellow participants in the aptly titled “chillwave” genre by focusing on blending R&B groves with vintage-sounding beats to make slicker, multi-layered songs. With Underneath the Pine, Toro y Moi isn’t so much taking a step forward as it is taking a step sideways.

Perhaps the most telling about the album is the second, well-named song “New Beat.”

It’s something you’d almost expect to hear while dancing underneath a disco ball, your hair in a frizzy perm. Peppered with beeps and blips, it seems like Bundick is channeling some Space Oddity-era Bowie.

While the rest of the album doesn’t sound exactly like this, the focus on more upbeat songs and a more overt 80s influence is the new name of the game for Bundick.

Combined with several dreamier songs that evoke Causers of This, the overall effect makes for a much more engaging album than the South Carolinian’s past efforts.

The album contains a multitude of double-take moments. One of these is the wholly unexpected guitar intro that transitions into the backbeat of “Before I’m Done,” managing for a minute to sidestep the album’s totally electronic sound.

“Got Blinded” gets slightly spooky with a clanging, eerie piano and wordless wailing from Bundick.

Yet songs like the slower, shimmery “Divina” shows that Toro y Moi hasn’t lost its penchant for the textured synth-and-effects slow-burners that made Causers so striking.

With Underneath the Pine, Bundick has chosen not to step completely out of his stylistic box, but rather to expand the amount of what that box can hold.

Fans from the artist’s first album will find that what drew them to Toro y Moi is still there, and newcomers will bask in the glow of Toro y Moi’s mesmerizing, poppy groove.

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