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Toro Y Moi: Ditching It All To Head Back Home

It's rare that an artist as new as Toro Y Moi initiates a significant musical movement on his own. But indeed, Toro Y Moi (a.k.a. Chaz Bundick) is only 23, and he only just put out his debut full-length Causers of This earlier this year. The album has an otherworldly pop aura, but it's also distinctly electronic, relying heavily on vast synths and slap-you-in-the-face side-chained drum machines. This innovative sound earned Toro Y Moi an equally inventive new classification as a purveyor of "chillwave" -- a term that, though contrived, is strangely appropriate, if only because of the adjectives it encompasses.

That said, his new single "Leave Everywhere" is, by all accounts, a huge departure: For one thing, Bundick appears to have ditched his laptop. Suddenly, Toro Y Moi is a rock 'n' roll band. The guitars have grit, the drums bang out a simple groove, and there's even a determined tambourine in the mix. Bundick's vocals are different, too. He leaves behind Causers' soothingly smooth pop intonation, instead employing a heady, distorted yelp.

The angst that accompanies making a serious change is clear here. Bundick advises, "Don't get too close / It's for your own good," in addition to assuring listeners, "I know you can't be waiting on me." But the song is reassuring, too. Bundick is singing about going back home, and as an artist who attributes much of his musical influence to his parents' record collection, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Besides, Toro Y Moi isn't necessarily changing so much as he's juggling two disparate musical styles, each of which he executes superbly. A non-album cut from earlier this year, "109," hints at this sneaky duality, though that's the only other inkling so far. According to his website, a second album is due out this year.

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Will Butler