Entertainment Entertainment Music

Album review: Toro Y Moi, 'Anything in Return'

*** (out of four)

If you remember the peak bedroom pop era of 2009--back before we had Instagram filters and Buzzfeed lists to mine our nostalgia full-time--there was this idea that, like, feelings were real in the '80s, you guys (!), but now they are vague.

A wave of artists put out videos designed to look like fading VHS tapes and released music designed to sound like decaying cassettes--there was a guy called Memory Tapes! Seriously! Memory Tapes! And as far as I can tell, they've been trying to live it down ever since by laying out their feelings in more definitive terms.

Toro Y Moi, a standout member of that class, did this by releasing a more straightforward disco album on which the lyrics were actually discernable. But that album tended to feel wan, lacking some of the standout production and giddy releases of tension on his debut. On Toro Y Moi's third album, "Anything in Return," the backlash is far enough in the past that singer/producer Chaz Bundick's two approaches can find a happy medium. The result is a supremely comfortable, vaguely disco-indebted electronic album on which sung vocals and samples blend effortlessly, drum patterns lazily weave in and out of pillowy synthesizers and exciting production flourishes crop up constantly without ever seeming crowded.

"Anything in Return" doesn't demand attention. Rather, it coaxes and reassures, hinting that, like, maybe this would be a good time to dance but, like, it's totally cool if you don't want to either, or whatever. The lyrics of fantastic lead single "Say That" include phrases such as "I can't decide" and "We're all right."

It's house music for the timid, but peaks such as the anthemic "Cake" and the chillwave-Backstreet-Boys-leaning "Never Matter" ultimately deliver an energetic late-album pay off. Lyrically, it's mostly an album about handling relationships in transition, which seems appropriate: "Anything in Return" finds Toro Y Moi building on his past successes and creating something that's looking to be more lasting.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic

See him live Feb. 19 at Metro.

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise
    Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise

    Members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity apparently learned a racist chant that recently got their chapter disbanded during a national leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the fraternity's national administration, the university's president said Friday.

  • In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing
    In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing

    Someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before an explosion that leveled three apartment buildings and injured nearly two dozen people, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday as firefighters soaked the still-smoldering buildings and police searched for at least two missing people.

  • Construction ongoing at Wrigley Field
    Construction ongoing at Wrigley Field

    From bleachers to structural details, work to renovate Wrigley Field continues.

  • Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden
    Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reduced spending and increased fines, fees and certain taxes to shrink the chronic budget deficits left over from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

  • Six Flags Great America's lost attractions
    Six Flags Great America's lost attractions

    Not every ride's the Willard's Whizzer. That iconic coaster debuted in 1976 when Marriott's Great America, now Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, Ill., first opened. And it's still popular today. But for every Whizzer there's a Tidal Wave, Shockwave or Z-Force, rides existing only in memory.

  • Denim's just getting started
    Denim's just getting started

    Five years ago, denim-on-denim defied all of the dire warnings in the "Undateable" handbook: Instead of evoking John Denver or Britney Spears in her misstyled youth, chambray shirts paired with darker blue jeans became as cool as actor Johnny Depp and street-style heroine Alexa Chung.