Honestly, I don’t listen to Toro y Moi as much as I should. And I assume you might not either. Despite his decade-long career in music, Chaz Bundick flies under the radar to the casual music fan. When I see a Toro album drop, I’m all ears. Yet by the end of the year his songs tend to fade away from my go-to playlists. His fifth album under this moniker, Boo Boo, started and finished strong. “Mirage” and “Labyrinth” (another album standout) are in my current rotation. However, that is mostly because of Travis Scott. The hyper-popular rapper added the former track to his NBA 2K19 playlist. It was a nice little reminder. What baffles me about Toro y Moi is why he isn’t more popular. His synth-pop style is rather accessible nowadays, though it is his writing that keeps his fame at bay.
When this decade began, a new-wave subgenre emerged. Chillwave is Toro y Moi’s strong suit. Heavy use of vintage style synthesizers, reverb and other vocal effects, and a lo-fi aesthetic are telltale signs of the genre. Bundick’s steady, mellow voice displays a healthy variety of synth-wave moods. On Outer Peace he extends his lush, funky appeal to kick the year off right. Album opener “Fading” establishes the record’s vibrant dance-centric vibe. His melodic howling in the background surprised me at first. It took a couple of listens to dig it, but I most certainly do. Subsequent tracks “Ordinary Pleasure” and “Laws of the Universe” had me thinking this could be his overall best LP. The former is the stickiest offering here, and welcomes gyration with open arms. Another highlight for me on the album was “New House.” If you need to relax look no further than this serene track.
While he Auto-croons, Chaz lays down a hypnotic alt-R&B and pop-trap instrumental. Here his lyrics narrate an anxious internal monologue. His day-to-day routine seems to be clouding his external priorities. “I want a brand new house… something I can’t afford.” His thoughts sound numb and, in a way, submissive to society’s idea of a musician’s lifestyle. “New House” is the only slower cut I enjoy from Outer Peace. To me, this South Carolina native exhibits his greatest qualities when he creates uptempo jams. “Freelance,” my choice for the album’s best overall song, has a killer groove. Also, the lyricism on this one flows much more freely compared to the rest of the LP. It begins a solid finishing four-song stretch. However, I still have a few gripes even with the tracks I like here. “Monte Carlo” with acoustic pop duo Wet should be my favorite track on the album.
Yet its momentum derails with an abrupt ending. The track is uniquely charming and personal. Its minimal beat is great for night riding and pillow talking. But with a runtime of barely two minutes “Monte Carlo” underwhelms more than it impresses. Additionally, most of the tunes here came and went without leaving much of a mark on my mental. The soundscapes blend into each other not often, but enough to make me question which song is which. Features stay more in the background — except for Abra of Awful Records. She has a lovely voice, but her performance sounded like a riff. Like she was winging it in the studio without much direction or focus (Forgive me, Father). In spite of a few kinks here and there, Outer Peace is worth your time. This release is care-free and fluid. My main concern, though, is its longevity, or lack thereof.