Toro y Moi: Mahal
Chaz Bear, better known by his multilingual moniker Toro y Moi, has been steadily making lush, warm and layered dance music since his 2010 debut placed him firmly atop the rush of so-called chillwave artists. But while that genre—hazy, psychedelic beats, far-off vocals, a pervasive sense of ‘chill’—quickly faded, Toro y Moi pushed forward, releasing consistently satisfying records, remixes and collaborations every few years. And while he’s a far cry from the sound of 2010 these days, something stuck: his music maintains a loose, casual, welcoming feel that’s hard not to like. This is feel-good-on-the-bus-to-work music—guaranteed for a smile and a steadily bobbing head, especially through great headphones. On his seventh official LP, Mahal, Toro y Moi hits a stride—the sound is streamlined and fully realized, the songs are memorable, and the sense of fun and experimentation are potent. Funk has always been at the center of Toro y Moi’s sound, and Bear builds a less-is-more foundation here that carries through all 13 songs: heavy-effected psychedelic guitars, simple but pronounced basslines, eminently hummable melodies and loose, grooving percussion. It’s the most focused he’s sounded in years—and yet also the most gentle and fun. Take single “Postman,” a tune that finds Bear asking his postman for something good, and getting only bills. Paired with a playful, bouncing bassline and some dependable tambourine, the number is wonderfully joyful. On “Last Year,” Bear dreamily sings about how he “learned to love [himself] last year,” over a plucky waltz beat and ever-present bass. After weathering a global panic for two years, some self-love wrapped inside stripped-down daydream funk feels really, really good.