Can anyone afford to relax in 2019? The world around us has become a place of endless melancholy, and current pop music has found it fit to follow in that regard. The spheres of rap and R&B have turned darker and drearier, so it would not have been a surprise if Toro y Moi went the same route with his latest LP, “Outer Peace.” But the artist known formally as Chaz Bear has managed to find a light in the darkness and with it, his first album since 2015’s “What For?” that feels like it is bursting with life.
Starting off the album with, “Fading,” a lush-sounding track taking influence from tropical-house club scene, you can tell how reinvigorated Chaz has become in the two years since “Boo Boo,” an album much more in line with forgettable 80’s R&B and disco. The tropical sounds follow and add the basslines and synths of classic funk with the album’s 2018 single, “Ordinary Pleasure.” “Laws of the Universe” is the immediate stand-out of this LP, giving listeners one of the first club-bangers of 2019 with a more refined take on the previous track’s sound. Indieheads are sure to get a kick from Toro’s lyrics in this one, quickly recounting a tale of meeting LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy at Coachella.
Things take a somber turn with, “Miss Me,” featuring the rising star, Abra, and “New House.” These songs offer a different change of pace from the album’s upbeat outlook, but both tracks still manage to grab your attention, unlike similar efforts at R&B from Chaz’ last full-length album. The songs focus on romantic struggles, as is usual with downbeat Toro y Moi tracks, only now there is a newfound sense of maturity in Chaz’ songwriting. The LP’s second single, “Freelance,” is a welcome return to 70’s disco and features one of the goofiest choruses in recent memory, with auto-tuned vocals rapidly turning into child-like gagging sounds.
“Who Am I” is another big standout of the record, as it combines simmering synths with rhythmic hi-hats reminiscent of Daft Punk’s greatest hits. It is only a shame that things end on a less than impressive note with the pair of ballads “Monte Carlo” and “50-50” featuring indie acts Wet and Instupendo respectively. While still sounding more polished than Toro y Moi’s recent attempts at sadboi tunes, you can’t help but long for an album from him that can sustain that bright and sunny sound all the way through. Overall, Chaz Bear manages to prove that while the glory days of chillwave may be behind us in this dark world, he is still able to make a solid album that will have you dance the night away.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment