In a recent Pitchfork interview, Chaz Bundick explains the criteria (or lack of) guiding his latest album as Toro y Moi, Anything in Return: “This record was just me having fun, making music that my girlfriend would dance to.” The South Carolina native says he knew he was on the right track once she started singing parts of the in-progress disc around the house, especially since her taste skews toward mainstream pop like Beyoncé and Justin Bieber.
No one would mistake Anything for a record by either of those arena-level stars, but it’s a significant departure for Bundick nonetheless. Once a pillar of the chillwave movement, he’s since expanded his vision beyond the confines of a laptop, delving into more ambitious fare that increasingly aligns him with club music, albeit not the kind currently in vogue—an undeniable house-music pulse powers serene cuts like “Harm in Charge” and “Say That.” While not exactly mainstream, it’s a step toward something approaching pop legitimacy.
As both producer and multi-instrumentalist, Bundick hones his performances until they’re flawless. Warm synthesizers wind through the downtempo “Cola” as a disembodied voice harmonizes with Bundick’s childlike timbre, layered until it feels weightless. That’s a common device of both lo-fi and pro studio operations, but he’s committed to the latter here, peeling away the layers of white noise and dialing back the delay. Bundick hasn’t completely shaken off that bedroom-producer mentality, but he’s succeeded in parlaying it into something bigger.