Chaz Bundick describes beginning work on Anything in Return (Carpark), his transcendent third album under the moniker Toro y Moi, as feeling like he was about to undertake “an experiment with myself.” Indeed, the circuit-bent contradiction of Anything in Return is what makes the record a fascinating exercise in postmodern pop—one full of more-than-human hooks that artfully split the difference between organic and synthetic. “Most modern-day pop is so calculated,” Bundick explains. “So I wanted to make something radio-friendly but emotional. I like a lot of Rihanna, but most of her songs are about her vagina. How can she sing that every night? What I look for in music is something I can relate to.”
The 26-year-old Bundick is, of course, far from a musical everyman—he admits that he is “personally drawn to the more obscure,” with a fetish for vintage analog synthesizers and the little-known visionaries lost in the chasms of music history. His first album as Toro y Moi (a Spanish-French mash-up meaning “bull and me”) was 2010’s Causers of This, which blended nostalgic electro-pop with lo-fi indie beats and helped usher in the nascent chillwave movement. Likewise, his sophomore effort, 2011’s Underneath the Pine, showcased an obsession with ’60s-style trippiness and spacey soul. But Bundick was born in the mid-’80s, and he remains fascinated by the sonics of that era. Thus, Anything in Return evokes an alternate dimension where classic Prince-style grooves and Krautrock-esque keyboards coexist with the contemporary dance-floor thump of Drake and Kendrick Lamar.
Toro y Moi’s mission, Bundick says, is to warp the divide between yesterday and tomorrow. “The idea is to make music with the computer that doesn’t sound like the computer,” he says. “I’m never making another album as poppy as Anything in Return,” he adds. “But my next record won’t be a bummer; just more psychedelic. Lately I’ve been fascinated by flower-power music—the mood of it is so happy, but there’s a dark side, too.”