Toro y Moi Expands Musical Wings

Courtesy of Carpark Records

Toro y Moi’s music has evolved over the years, which is evident in his new album, “Outer Peace.” Toro y Moi, the stage name of Chaz Bear, has transitioned from hazy beats to upbeat and funky dance bops.

“Outer Peace” was released by his label, Carpark and Mistletone Jan. 18, but NPR played of the album about a week earlier. 

Bear made his debut more than a decade ago as part of the chillwave movement and has released six albums including “Outer Peace.” His debut album, “Causers of This” (2010) featured dreamy singles such as “Blessa” and “Talamak,” and both have relaxed vocals which sometimes get lost in the electronic haze. His second album, “Anything in Return” (2013) follows suit with songs including “So Many Details” and “Rose Quartz.” 

Bear said in a press release that “Outer Peace” is music for creative minds, and the album reflects that. It keeps Bear’s electronic energy but strips the haze, leaving clear bops and lyrics.

This gives tracks on “Outer Peace” a techno vibes. 

An energetic, head-bopping beat opens the first track “Fading,” and second track, “Ordinary Pleasures,” has Toro y Moi’s classic modern funk. “Laws of the Universe” and “Freelance” have that same feel.

Although Bear’s songs are usually upbeat and easy to dance to, his lyrics are still thought-provoking. “Fading” has feelings of uncertainty as he sings “Everything is fading, fading fading. Guess I gotta have faith in that.” Underneath the playful groove of “Ordinary Pleasure” are lyrics about being disillusioned by love and sex.

“Who Am I” is the most reflective song on “Outer Peace,” and could suggest the direction of Bear’s music going forward. Its chorus includes the line “This might be my brand new sound” and repeats the line, “Now I don’t know who I am.” 

Several tracks on “Outer Peace” give listeners a taste of this brand new sound. 

“Outer Peace” strays from Bear’s typical electronic funk with “Miss Me” and “New House.” “Miss Me,” featuring synth-pop singer ABRA, has a seductive R&B beat carried by her sweet vocals. “New House” is a slower, melancholy song about wishing for more in life.

The final two tracks, “Monte Carlo (feat. WET)” and “50-50 (feat. Instupendo)” stand out from Chaz’s repertoire. Toro y Moi mumble-raps through both songs, and the tracks show his experimentation with different genres.  

Listeners will also notice a shift in his lyrics. While previous hits such as “Girl Like You” and “Mirage” are focused on love and romance, “Outer Peace” zooms out, looking at Chaz’s relationship with the world and where he currently fits into it. 

Some fans of Toro y Moi might be turned off by “Outer Peace” as it moves away from his older albums and bounces around genres. However, Bear’s thoughtful, reflective music in “Outer Peace” is something that’ll resonate with loyal listeners as well as new fans.

“Outer Peace” is available on streaming platforms including Apple Music and Spotify.

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