“You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only ” is not only a line from one of the best ABBA songs of all time but also an exact description of me listening to Outer Peace by Toro y Moi (specifically “Who Am I”). Toro y Moi’s newest album, released on January 18th 2019, demonstrates Toro y Moi’s ability create endless permutations of extremely chill music.
Toro y Moi is the stage moniker of Chaz Bundick. Bundick grew up in South Carolina and towards the end of his schooling formed a close working relationship with fellow chillwave staple, Washed Out’s Ernest Greene. Toro y Moi released their first full-length, Causers of This, in 2010. 2013 would see the release of Anything in Return, a deep dive into Bundick’s experiments with house, two step, and jazz. Hits from the album like “Say Anything” and “Rose Quartz” would solidify Toro y Moi’s place on the indie circuit. Toro y Moi briefly stepped away from the samples and electronic elements he’d become known for on the guitar-based, solidly indie-rock album, What For?
2019’s Outer Peace picks up where Anything in Return left off and takes a sharp left toward funk. We see a return to dancy elements of 90’s club mixes in the tight snares and incessant hi-hats of “Laws of the Universe” but the unmistakable meandering bass makes it’s presence known. Nowhere is this marriage more apparent than on the single “Freelance.”
Toro y Moi’s particular mesh of the 90’s club sensibility with a Prince-like feeling of funk brings to mind earlier works of Of Montreal’s, especially from the Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer era. Notable on the second track from the album, “Ordinary Pleasure,” which starts off with sparse drumming before leading into the thicc bassline of the song as Chaz sings in a laid back tone accompanied by backing synth, giving the chorus an unmistakably Of Montreal vibe.
Toro y Moi doesn’t just succeed in the funky, dancy places of Outer Peace, but also the mood that is perfectly balanced between dancing-the-night-away energy and slipping-away-to-have-a-serious-talk feels. Tracks like “Miss Me (ft. ABRA)” and “New House” offer us a chance to catch our breath. These songs turn away from the energy (albeit with the signature muted and chill energy of Tory y Moi) of the rest of the album in favor of a softer, R&B approach.
Outer Peace is one of Toro y Moi’s freshest albums in recent years. Bundick plays with the 90’s club aesthetics while making sure his chillwave roots shine through. Outer Peace proves Toro y Moi can still refashion his signature mood in exciting new ways.
For fans of: Of Montreal, Thundercat, having something to dance to without the sensory overload of EDM
Our take: funky basslines, driving drums, hypnotic rhythms, danceable hits