Toro y Moi releases nearly-perfect ‘Outer Peace’

by Chris Bach

Toro y Moi releases nearly-perfect ‘Outer Peace’

Toro y Moi
Outer Peace

Carpark Records · January 18, 2019

Toro y Moi releases nearly-perfect ‘Outer Peace’

Chaz Bundick, best known as Toro y Moi, quickly rose to prominence on online forums and blogs during Chillwave’s online emergence in the late 2000s. The often gimmicky and short-lived genre produced many burnout artists, but Toro y Moi’s staying power made him an outlier. He is among this era’s greatest artists thanks to his ability to not only adapt to changing technology but use it to advance the music industry at large. And his latest studio effort, Outer Peace, is yet another push forward. Blending his trademark synth sound with retro, club-inspired beats, Outer Peace is among Toro y Moi’s greatest albums and is an absolute delight from start to finish.

The clear highlights of this album are the instantly enjoyable tracks “Ordinary Pleasure” and “Freelance.” On “Ordinary Pleasure,” the silky-smooth bassline and African drums flow effortlessly into a synth complimented chorus, and the track’s lyricism about maximizing pleasure while we get older and as the world gets more depressing is nothing if not poignant. “Freelance” sounds like Neon Indian and Daft Punk decided to collaborate in the best way possible. The lo-fi vocal manipulation breaking up infectious bass lines before each verse is irresistible and the playful chorus riffs are flawless.

But while these two standout tracks certainly impress, the album shines because each song draws you in and demands you to move. “Laws of the Universe” has the unenviable task of following up “Ordinary Pleasure” in the album’s track listing, but a cheeky reference to James Murphy; a catchy, warbling synth; and a perfectly placed off-beat piano during the bridge turns this track into another highlight. The tropical influenced percussion in “Baby Drive It Down” will bring you right back to moving after a change of pace halfway through the album. “Who Am I” is the most fun you will ever have listening to an artist have an identity crisis. “50-50 (feat. Instupendo)” is a swirling, ethereal closer and a fitting callback to Bundick’s musical start in the Chillwave genre.

If I had to pick something to critique on Outer Peace, the lyrics and slower tracks leave something to be desired. Bundick has never been a standout lyricist, and besides some notable lines, this trend continues on the new album. The change of pace in the middle of the album is understandable from a thematic perspective, but the tracks don’t grab your attention like the rest of the work. “Miss Me” features excellent vocals from ABRA, and “New House” would be a great track on any other album, but Outer Peace in particular was dragged down by the lackluster beats in each. That said, the critiques don’t take away the fact that this is one of the best full-length efforts of Bandick’s career and an early end-of-the-year top album list contender.

Working a desk job or being a student means listening to a ton of music and figuring out what makes you as artificially productive as possible. That said, while I love Outer Peace, I do not recommend listening while at work or in a campus library, because you absolutely will be dancing in your chair and you absolutely will attract weird glances due to aforementioned dancing. But if you find yourself looking for an album to enjoy from start to finish once you’re back home, I suggest you give Outer Peace a spin and enjoy an indie legend’s nearly-perfect 7th studio effort.

Listen to Outer Peace: