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Sunday, April 23, 2017
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Toro Y Moi: 'Underneath the Pine' – 5 out of 5 stars

Tags: Music Reviews

Translated from its half-Spanish-half-French jargon, "Toro Y Moi" means "Bull and Me." It's unclear what part the bull plays (drums perhaps?), but the "me" half, South Carolinian Chazwick Bundick, has a clear job description: manufacture ear-sating, disco-flavored chillwave. Bundick and the bull get that job done on Toro Y Moi's latest LP, Underneath the Pine.

The initially admirable feature about Toro Y Moi's second release is the charm in its tone. When the RPMs are high, it's like something straight out of "Saturday Night Fever" perfectly depicted by the vibe and new beat of "New Beat." When the lights are turned low, Toro Y Moi lets a ballad-like feel flow with a celestial style occasionally even ditching vocals altogether. Other times, Bundwick lets his layered hums float unfettered; retorts echo, yet they are never discordant.

Although the soothing chillwave sound is certainly a fantastic opening attraction, the greatest strength of Pine is its consistently impeccable melodies. Chillwave artists typically rely on looping and laptop effects, and though Bundick certainly does employ these tools regularly, his melodies could easily excel with nothing more than a backbeat. At times, Toro Y Moi's gift for melody and lo-fi dance quality resemble Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - albeit a bit less haunted. Both pay clear tributes to 70s and 80s pop while retaining an independent sound. The way Toro Y Moi spaces intersperses its melodious gems between the spacey musings epitomized by glo-fi allows them to percolate and grab center stage, demanding command on the dance floor.

With the recent release from dub-stepper James Blake, it seems unlikely that the music gods would already grant us another praiseworthy electronic album, but Underneath the Pine is certainly one of the strongest albums of the young 2011, and that's no bull.

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