ALBUM REVIEW: Toro Y Moi Keeps Shapeshifting on ‘Outer Peace’

Thirty minutes of cosmic disco, pop and futuristic R&B.

On his seventh studio album as Toro Y Moi, shapeshifting chillwave pioneer Chaz Bundick offers up 30 minutes of cosmic disco, pop and futuristic R&B. Ever since his first release, Bundick has never settled on one sound or genre, and while this is a noble quality, more often than not it yields mixed results, as heard here on Outer Peace.

The album starts off with three DFA and Daft Punk indebted tracks, which go fully meta when he sings “James Murphy is spinning at my house” on “Laws of the Universe.” It’s fine to acknowledge the influence of everyone’s favorite French robots on Murphy, who in turn influenced Bundick, but it also comes off a little like cringey hipster baiting. While I wasn’t expecting Dylan level lyrics here, there are clunkers throughout, like when he repeats “Maximize all the pleasure, even with all this weather, nothing can make it better,” on the fashion runway ready “Ordinary Pleasure.”

Generally I’m fine with mediocre lyrics, especially when the music is so lively and well produced, but lines like these stuck out like sore thumbs, putting Bundick in position to take the Terrible Lyrics in Dance Pop crown from Bernard Sumner. (I like New Order, but damn does he write some awful verses.)

Elsewhere, tracks like “Miss Me,” “New House” and “Baby Drive it Down” sound like modern commercial R&B pop. The production is excellent and there are some nicely layered grooves, but they tend to run together anonymously. By the same token, Toro Y Moi might be one Rihanna or Kanye guest spot away from catapulting to mainstream stardom. Overall, Outer Peace is a mixed bag of styles and quality, but it shows that Toro Y Moi continues to evolve and innovate. I have no doubt these tracks express what Bundick set out to create, but personally, it didn’t do much for me.

Score: 🐮 🐮 🐮/5

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