Toro y Moi – Boo Boo review

Sum­mer 2017 sees the always wel­come return of South Car­oli­na singer-song­writer, pro­duc­er and DJ, Chaz ‘Toro y Moi’ Bundick. Mix­tapes notwith­stand­ing, fifth solo stu­dio album, Boo Boo, strong­ly indi­cates that he’s not about to drop the high stan­dards set by all note­wor­thy pre­de­ces­sors. After sat­is­fy­ing his cos­mic-rock palate on 2015’s What For?, Bundick is back to more soul­ful predilec­tions. He has the envi­able knack of hop­ping between his beloved gen­res with­out repeat­ing himself.

Boo Boo’s atmos­pher­ic “I can’t believe it’s not 1986!” elec­tro-pop and soul (with smat­ter­ings of break­ers’ funk) is the bliss­ful sound­track to an icon­ic, angst-rid­den teen movie that was nev­er made. Bundick’s ever thought­ful lyrics set to syn­the­sised vibra­phone wist­ful­ness are an 80s nostalgia-fiend’s dream (guilty as charged). It helps that the almost-31-year-old Bundick’s appre­hen­sive-sound­ing vocal, with its occa­sion­al Brit inflec­tion, is in a state of per­ma­nent ado­les­cence. His oft-for­lorn expres­sion and cam­era awk­ward­ness only enhance the poignancy.

There’s a song for near­ly every con­ceiv­able nar­ra­tive tra­jec­to­ry: infat­u­a­tion (the pure pop‑R&B per­fec­tion that is ‘Girl Like You’); heartache (‘Labyrinth’, and yet anoth­er 80s ref­er­ence, ‘Mona Lisa’); exis­ten­tial crises (‘You and I’, ‘Inside My Head’, ‘WIWWTW’) and feel­ings of dis­place­ment. Roll credits.

On the painful­ly plain­tive ‘No Show’, Bundick is open about the need to escape the “South­ern life” of his Car­oli­na upbring­ing ver­sus being a shy kid now a lit­tle over­whelmed by inter­na­tion­al suc­cess. His clever, off-beat phras­ing on the cho­rus shows off the under­stat­ed sophis­ti­ca­tion evi­dent in much of Bundick’s oeuvre.

Instru­men­tal ‘Embar­cadero’ is Boo Boo at its zenith, with traces of appar­ent influ­ences – mid-80s Jam & Lewis, Art of Noise, hints of The Gap Band – com­pressed into just under three fleet­ing­ly beau­ti­ful min­utes. This lat­est project well and tru­ly puts Toro y Moi’s at the van­guard of the retro-sound wave.


Boo Boo is out now on Carpark Records.

If you like this artist, check out: Frank Ocean; Dornik

Image: Andrew Paynter