Chillwave front runner Chaz Bundick, who performs under the pseudonym Toro y Moi, has managed to expand the burgeoning genre again. His new EP, Freaking Out, moves in a direction similar to Toro y Moi’s debut album, Causers Of This, with dancier, more upbeat synth lines lit by catchy, simple piano lines throughout.
The lo-fi genre, which purposefully exhibits a lower, degraded audio quality, has been furtively and silently making a return. The relative Internet success of the Denver husband and wife duo Tennis, and their less profound but higher-profile counterpart Best Coast is indicative of this. Rising stars Neon Indian and Com Truise are producing trippy vintage ’80s songs. Even French electronic megastars Justice have taken notice of this trend, incorporating lo-fi techniques onto their single “Civilization” and utilizing chillwave and ’80s-esque synthlines on another single, “Helix,” from their forthcoming record.
Chaz Bundwick, a pioneer of this movement at its core, may be able to capitalize off this rise in popularity with his new sound. His deviation from mellow, more chilled-out instrumentals and complex narratives will definitely make the album more accessible without alienating his original fans.
Lyrically, the album falls short. Bundwick could have done a better job combining catchy hooks with unique and drawn out stories so that he wouldn’t be sacrifice depth for listening ease. The song “Saturday Love” is just him singing the days of the week and talking about love lost — like that hasn’t been done before. To his credit, his explicit exhibition of his emotions are bold and worthy of some admiration. Bundwick has demonstrated in the past that he has the capacity for a more intelligent means of expressing himself.
While Toro y Moi does a slightly lesser job of storytelling on Freaking Out than in records past, he is still taking an interesting step in the right direction. Freaking Out is only an EP after all, and Bundwick has the chance to make up for his shortcomings on a full LP.