As one of the so-called “patron saints” of chillwave, Toro Y Moi, a.k.a. Chaz Bundick, will surprise people with his newest release, Underneath The Pine. Chillwave no more, although with tinges of that infamous genre, the LP sees Bundick maturing as an artist, moving away from compositions and into the realm of actual, honest-to-goodness songs. This is best exemplified with the stellar single “New Beat,” a track that combines Bundick’s excellent production skills with a hook so sticky that it will linger even after the swirling melody goes away. It’s no insult to say that this track sounds like a great Ariel Pink effort; in fact, it bears a good resemblance to “Round And Round” (if that song was somehow funkier).
The rest of the album holds up to the single’s brilliance, as Bundick traverses quite a few genres—from his trademark chillwave, to acoustic dream-pop (“Before I’m Done”) and severe piano-led ballads (“Good Hold”). All of this is backed by his under-appreciated vocals, which are just low-key enough to blend in without disappearing into the mix.
As “Elise” finishes off the 11-track LP with a lounge-esque song that recalls the fast-approaching summer, the listener has grown comfortable with the quirks and experiments from Mr. Bundick. And isn’t that really the best way to “chill,” wave or not?