Toro y Moi | Underneath the Pine (Carpark Records)

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While fairly distinguishable from 2010’s Causers of This (and the inauguration of chillwave as yet another sub-sub-sub genre), Underneath the Pine is certainly an album one can “chill” to.


It only seems appropriate that prior to actually fleshing out Toro y Moi’s latest, Underneath the Pine, the album and Chaz Bundick as an artist, are stamped “chillwave”. While Bundick may be the foremost purveyor behind the chillwave genre, he has certainly attempted to shed some of that skin and step into something a bit funkier, poppier, more retro and a bit more tenacious. Underneath the Pine’s live instrumentation casts Bundick as a bit more vulnerable and fragile but it brings all the elements of a great follow-up record. The album finds Bundick at a delicate crossroads in his life—commencing writing after the funeral of a friend, and after relentlessly performing with and lending a hand to other acts. His sentiments are echoed throughout every one of the 11 tracks.
“New Beat” recalls a bit of conflict as the funky keyboard lines and jagged bass make the listener tap their toes, but Bundick’s vocals feel all too soothing. The conflict, however, will be worked out as the listener moves from toe-tapping on to full on head-bobbing. The track flows gracefully into “Go with You,” a monotonous, ghostly song in which Bundick longingly sings, “you know I’ll be alright, whatever that is.”
“Got Blinded” once again injects the ear with funky beats and soaring layers of vocals and synthesizers. Perhaps the most danceable track Underneath the Pine has to offer, though, is “Still Sound,” with its collection of disco beats, bass, keyboard and vocal arrangements that take the listener back to the days of bell-bottoms and dreams. “Good Hold” starts off as a sort of antithesis to the previous track, with eerie dissonance giving way to twisting, catchy vocal and keyboard instrumentation. A production trick makes the listener feel as if they were underwater listening to Bundick sing soothingly.
While this album is fairly distinguishable from 2010’s Causers of This and the inauguration of chillwave as yet another sub-sub-sub genre, Underneath the Pine is certainly an album one can “chill” to, and therein lies the problem. This album is good, but may be a bit too comfortable. Still, it’s certainly a great soundtrack to have playing in the background of a sexy party, sitting in the backseat of a friend’s car contemplating life after too many drinks, while doing homework. Bundick definitely put out a solid effort with Underneath the Pine but it too easily gets lost in the shuffle. B | Jenn Metzler

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