Music

Toro Y Moi: Samantha

Samantha sees Toro Y Moi going back to his roots in a move that struggles to be more than just another chapter in his career.


Toro Y Moi

Samantha

Label: Soundcloud
US Release Date: 2015-08-28
UK Release Date: 2015-08-28
Amazon
iTunes

The most common complaint about chillwave in its early days and form had little to do with the music itself. At least not only with it. The claims against that broad scope of sounds weren’t exactly baseless, though. Chillwave, the genre, the movement or, simply put, the “scene”, was -- perhaps still is -- all about fake nostalgia. The gathering of people whose only goal is to create vague, beautifully framed memories. Somehow, that was appealing to the music fan by the end of the aughts.

In the hurricane’s eye, Toro Y Moi stood out amidst the crowd: 2011’s Underneath the Pine, still Chaz Bundick’s best offering, was more than music that simply required a mood or, more broadly, a single state of mind in order to exist. Since then, however, Bundick has shifted priorities: 2013’s Anything In Return and this year’s What For? see the producer moving closer and closer to indie rock territory, often to interesting effects. Sonically rich and inviting, Toro Y Moi’s work has upped the game for a microgenre once so hollow.

Samantha, then, a mixtape (which, curiously, resembles an album a lot) consisting of Soundcloud releases and songs reminiscent of album leftovers and new projects, might help shed a new light on the producer’s past work. In many ways, it’s a step towards a different sonic route for Toro Y Moi. The release contains songs indicative of some slight, minimum experimentation (“Late”) while others feel like treading the same old territory of chillwave.

Toro Y Moi’s newest work seems more like a collection of songs rather than an album per se, which is something good for most of the time. Bundick benefits from such a carefree song construction. In that sense, the producer borrows from R&B and more soulful tunes. Amidst Ciara-sampled ("Boo Boo Mobile”) tracks he places instrumentals that fill time and space. The result is some of the best and most inventive songs in his career. Highlight “Pitch Black” (which, accordingly and not so surprisingly, features Roman Fortune in the vocals) is an interesting showcase of such enterprise.

Samantha, in spite of being a mess of an album, follows a recurring theme. Toro Y Moi’s songs narrate the downsides of love and relationships in general. Hovering above everything in here is a supreme, sometimes excessive preoccupation with mood and technique. Yet the sole existence of “Want”, Samantha’s most unusual song, is enough to mitigate such worry. Built as an ambient track, it quotes a much-mocked and infamous The Notebook scene. “What do you want?”, in the words of Ryan Gosling, in a bold, genius move, becomes a mantra.

Not every other song quite meets those high marks on Samantha, which is something that ends up exemplifying that theory from earlier: chillwave, and especially Toro Y Moi’s music in here, is all about the mood it elicits, not much about the content. Which is not the same as saying that Samantha doesn’t stand for its own merits. This is an intriguing record, one that renders us questioning its existence. The fact that it came out right after What For?, essentially an indie rock release, is telling. This is, then, Bundick looking back at his roots -- bedroom music, fake nostalgia -- before he sets out in a different direction.

Right now, that is one way of listening to this album and it is probably the most honest. It does nothing particularly big for Toro Y Moi’s catalog; if nothing else, it offers a nostalgic eye to his very particular way of making music. For the prying eye of the music fan, though, it makes more sense as a relic, simply one more chapter in his history. Taking into account the way Samantha was originally conceived, this is music to be archived and left alone as part of the stream it to which it originally belonged.

5
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.