Toro y Moi gets sad on his new album, Boo Boo, but it will still make you happy.Carpark Records, 2017
7.4 / 10
Perhaps you have a boo boo. Well, let me put a chillwave band aid on it for you. That is NOT a line from Toro y Moi’s new album, Boo Boo, but why not? No matter how much musicians like Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, Washed Out, or Neon Indian progress in their musicianship, there will always be a reference to their chillwave days. Never mind that Bundick’s music is the funkiest it’s ever been, and lo-fi no longer applies. This is a guy making great dance music with slow jams and speedy jams alike. However, with Boo Boo, the tone is a little more somber. Much of the album reflects a break-up. Yet, at the same time, it reflects Bundick coming to terms with his fame as a musician.
Instead of Boo Boo, you might want to call this album, Boo Hoo, as in, boo hoo this musician and his fancy life. Perhaps that’s fair, but most of us have no idea what Bundick deals with on a day-to-day basis. It’s probably not all glitz and glamor and fun. Now, you’re probably saying, he’s not that big of a star anyway. While Toro y Moi may not be a star as big as Jay-Z to command a contract with Sprint for an exclusive album, the guy has some notoriety. After all, he gets coverage in most big name indie blogs, including now mainstream Pitchfork.
So, I think his fame is fair game as material for Boo Boo. The song, “No Show”, tackles this subject head on. Here, he details how his career puts distance between him and his girl until the romance is over. While the song does convey a droopy mood, it’s also smooth and just plain cool. The wavy synths wash over Bundick’s sharp vocals as he sings, “My baby got fed up with my ego, oh/ Oh—wasn’t even wishin’ to be known worldwide.” On “Windows”, it feels like Bundick is channeling the moody hip-hop of Drake. There’s a very zippy delivery to Bundick’s lines. He also employs some autotune to add an extra layer of grief behind his vocals.
However, not all of Boo Boo is a constant lamentation. On “Girl Like You”, he wishes for a chance at a long-lasting relationship with a girl like a summer romance he had. However, instead of sounding mopey, Bundick sounds determined. He’s got his game face on even as he asks, “But what’s it gonna take for a guy like me to find a girl like you? What I gotta do to find a girl whose loving is more than true?” Deep down, he knows he can find one, even if she’s currently out of reach. His motivation for change also comes through on “Inside My Head”. Here, he admits, “Got a tendency to stay inside my head/ Wanna get a piece of what they have instead.”
Unfortunately, Bundick isn’t motivated to move fast. Boo Boo seems to trudge along at a snail’s pace; likely because of its somber mood. It doesn’t help that the album ends with the seven-minute “W.I.W.W.T.W.” By the time it shows up, it feels like overkill, even if there’s a sharp guest appearance from Madeline Kenney, who has a new album coming out later this year. Still, Boo Boo will satisfy longtime Toro y Moi fans, even if this album isn’t as much fun as this year’s earlier team-up with The Mattson 2.