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“An upbeat, solid set of songs—and a step in that pop-idol direction.”
Two things stand out about Toro Y Moi. The first is that he is the closest thing the indie-label electronic scene has come to a pop idol. Note his impeccable selection of clothing, good looks, and dance moves. The second observation I have to offer is the more relevant of the two: his stylistically varied releases show not his versatility, but his ability to render the same musical recipe in different but related ways.
It’s like he’s capturing the same image with different lenses. At the base of it all is the pretty conventional, soul-influenced pop music performed in his live sets (download one here). That essence is then portrayed from different angles in each of his releases (there have been three, two albums and this EP, to date).
The portrayals have different effects; the debut album Causers of This from 2010 used heavy distortion and an irregular focus to create electronic music centered around texture, dreams and wishes. The more distinct pop songs on this year’s Underneath the Pine were captured with a clearer focus, but the grainy nostalgia remained, and parts had a trippy hue (closer ‘Elise,’ for instance).
So: Freaking Out. This five-track release—Toro’s funkiest to date by a mile—is aimed at the dance floor. Upbeat music, complete with more audible synths and infectious bridges, make up a solid set of songs, and a step in that pop-idol direction.
And the lense? Well, apart from the heavy reverb on many of the vocals, it seems the equipment is acting up. Everything is fairly clear-cut, with an obvious emphasis on catchy synths and guitars. Except, of course, for the EP’s best moment: ‘Sweet’, a Dilla-fied take on a funk song with knob-twists and just-off quantizing almost worthy of a spot on Donuts.
words Sven CarlssonToro y Moi: All Alone Toro y Moi: Sweet