Toro Y Moi Heals With a Boo Boo

I have to admit I was a little surprised when I picked up Toro Y Moi's 2015 album What For? because it simply sounded nothing like the music on Anything In Return, the 2013 album which was my entry point for this artist. Now, I'm all for artists trying different things, so I will be the last person to slam an artist for making divergent career turns -- like Neil Young before him, I do applaud an artist taking chances putting out music counter to what they are known for...

AR-ToroYMoiBooBooCover225.jpegBut... well... I have to admit a certain amount of disappointment on that 2015 album because I'd really liked the chill-wave ambiance of the prior record and was kinda hoping for more of that vibe. I was impressed by his melodies and creative use of vintage 1970s synthesizer sounds without relying on sampled hooks made by other artists to drive his music. You can revisit my review of that fine album by clicking on this link here

Fast forward to 2017, I went into the new album -- which is called Boo Boo -- with a certain amount of newbie fan trepidation. This was eased a bit by the clerk at the check out counter at Amoeba Music who seemed a wee bit surprised to see this 50-something salt 'n pepper-haired dude buying a Toro Y Moi record. We ended up chatting about the last album and he assured me that this new one was, as they say, a "return to form."  He even gave me one of the promotional Boo Boo bandaids, issued for buyers of the LP (initial pressings which came on pretty lavender swirl vinyl). Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but the band aid was a clever promotional tactic that brought a smile to my face, offering to perhaps helping to heal the "wound" of disappointment over the prior album.  

AR-ToroYMoiBooBoo225.jpeg

Mind you, that last album, What For?, wasn't "bad" by any stretch of the imagination.  It was, however, more of a traditional indie rock pop record -- real drums, electric guitars, basses, and such -- falling just enough this side of not funky and soulful to make me pause. It gets even a bit psychedelic at times -- which is cool too. So, don't get me wrong: I like my indie rock and progressive psych music a whole lot, as many of you know. It simply wasn't what I was expecting from this particular artist at that point in time, so I let it just sit there in my "to play" bin for a while. At some point soon I will revisit it and do a proper review here, just for the record, giving it the respect it deserves.   

That said...

I'm happy to report that the new album, Boo Boo, is a good album and a return to that sound which initially caught my ear and imagination, replete with the ambient music touches and more soul flavored pop songwriting. This is a good sounding modern record, mastered by Greg Calibi at Sterling Sound. Happily, the pressing on swirly colored vinyl is quiet and well centered. You'll hear hip hop-flavored, drum machine-inspired beats and samples here for sure, so don't go into this music with heady analog purist expectations. That isn't a bad thing, mind you. But I know that some of you out there in audiophile land are not into digitally derived musics, so I am giving you a head up here.  If you want to check out his music, you can find it up on Tidal and other streaming platforms.

AR-ToroYMoiHypeSticker225.jpegLike on Anything In Return, you'll hear vintage synthesizer tones on Boo Boo. At least one song sounds like there is a Fretless Bass on it (perhaps sampled).  And you'll even hear a bit of auto-tuned vocals at times (which would allow some of this music to fit in with current radio formats). Ultimately its the songs that matter and there are some nice ones growing on me here, including the first single "Girl Like You" and the slinky album opener "Mirage.  There are some cool Eno-esque moments such as the ambient track called "Pavement" and "Embarcadero" reminds me of some the late '80s / early '90s solo music by Happy The Man founder Kit Watkins (curiously there is even a track here called "Labyrinth" which was the name of Kit's first solo album in 1983, so my mind is wandering/wondering if there might be some vestige of influence thing happening here.... probably not but you never know...

Anyhow, summing up, while Boo Boo may not offer as much of that epic song cycle feel as Anything In Return did, it is nonetheless a strong release that will keep me exploring Toro Y Moi's musical past and future. This is good music worthy of your attention. 

Onward through the fog...

comments powered by Disqus

Audiophile Review Sponsors