Outer Peace by Toro y Moi

By Stephan Boissonneault

We’re still early in 2019 and Chaz Bundick a.k.a. Toro Y Moi is already bringing the heat. His latest album Outer Peace not only utilizes all of the chill wave elements he became known for with his debut albums, but it steadily remains funky and fresh. It’s just some quality songwriting that’s enjoyable during a monotonous day. His last album 2017’s Boo Boo was as well, but it was a lot less fun and playful and instead came off as beautifully depressing.  

Since he jumped on the scene, Bundick has shown that he chameleon his way through a slew of genres. He understands what makes a good beat and has shown time and time again that he can create earworms that stick with you after one listen. Take the opening track of Outer Peace “Fading” which opens with a bassy drum line comparable to Queens “Radio Ga Ga” and then expands as Bundick adds some psychedelic synths and tracking vocoder. Your feet dance, your head bobs, and you wait for the next offering.

That’s “Ordinary Pleasure,” probably the tightest track on the whole album that has a funky bass line that even P-Funk would turn their heads to. It’s a simple little creature that’s led by Bundicks slightly manipulated voice repeating “Maximize all the pleasure.” It fits nicely with the disco era funk that was dropping in the late 1980s. Same goes with “Freelance,” a song that has a music video that lets you into Toro y Moi’s slick, polished, disco aesthetic world.

Perhaps the only limp track on the album is “Miss Me (Feat ABRA).” It’s not a bad song by any stretch, but the instrumentation sort of sounds like a backing track for ABRA’s lyrics that come off as pretty generic. Perhaps Bundick’s intention was to making a backing track, but it kind of stone walls the flow of the album.

Usually I despise autotune. It’s just a personal thing for me, but it works for me on songs like “New House.” The quiet piano accompanied by the droney wave beats and a woman singing “I just want a new house // Something I can’t afford,” melt like hot butter on toast.     

As I said, I usually hate the vocal autotune trick because artists who can’t sing use it to cloak their out of pitch, off-time voices. Looking at you Migos… But Bundick can in fact sing. He sang in a punk band way back before Toro y Moi so he understands things like basic pitch and harmony and uses vocoder autotune to subtly accentuate certain words like “party” on the song “Monte Carlo.” The song kinda sounds like the more upbeat, speedy cousin of Childish Gambino’s “Summer.”

Outer Peace is a fantastic musical start to 2019 and will easily find its home on the shelves of old fans and new.

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