Album Review: Toro Y Moi - Underneath The Pine (Carpark)
Chaz Bundick ditches the chillwave prefect tag with a sparkling, melodic rumination on, yep, being buried
Traditionally, hyped and scene-lumped artists escape their pigeonholes by exploding into a ‘you don’t know me’ strop of obtuse dissonance or ludicrous, grandiose folly. [a]Toro Y Moi[/a] (Chaz Bundick to his ma), however, has reacted to his unwanted status as head honcho of chillwave with a welcoming record that ought to pull him from the self-referential arse-cloud of the blogosphere into the warmth of every home.
He’s reinvented himself by abandoning the cut-and-paste techniques that made his debut, [b]‘Causers Of This’[/b], a web-melter. That album’s digital awkwardness made it ‘difficult’ enough to put his name on the lips of snivelling fashionistas, but offered little to entice anyone not logged into its little world. The contrast to [b]‘Underneath The Pine’[/b], entirely recorded with live instrumentation, couldn’t be more marked.
Bundick began writing it the day after the funeral of a friend; the title refers to his desire, when he shuffles off to join the great majority, to be buried. He’s reflecting on how love inevitably becomes loss, but this is neither grim nor glib; instead it sparkles with humanity, from the delicate pop of [b]‘How I Know’[/b] to the light funk of [b]‘Still Sound’[/b], while retaining a fascination with the structure of music, as heard in the Steve Reich-influenced percussion of [b]‘Go With You’[/b].
A new, clearer sense of direction curiously recalls the intelligent songwriting of Stereolab, but most striking of all is the quantity of earworm pop melodies, the finest saved until the instantly familiar chorus of the last track, [b]‘Elise’[/b].
The novelty-obsessed stay-at-homes who made [a]Toro Y Moi[/a] the buzz hit of 2009 might react unfavourably to all this accessibility, but by digging deep, [b]‘Underneath The Pine’[/b] shows [a]Toro Y Moi[/a] setting down roots and, perhaps more swiftly than expected, flourishing.