Over the past five years, we’ve seen many stages of Toro Y Moi as expressed through Chaz Bundick’s prolific musical career. He’s had ups and downs through this journey of soulful indie and synth pop. What For? makes for his fourth LP under this moniker, and its one filled with a mix of tracks to delight in their pop grooves.
Opening track, “What You Want,” is a good expression of what the album as a whole holds for you in that the song blends a few genres while holding onto that distinctively groovy Toro Y Moi sound. Its got licks of cutting high and low electric guitar, streaming synths that fill in the gaps. You also get Bundick playing around a bit vocally, with some exclamatory yips and yalps. While I like this song as an opening track, as it eases you into the music, I am far more interested in the second track “Buffalo,” which sounds like a mix of a 70’s disco track mixed with the indie pop of today. Lyrically, this song plays around even more than the first one, running with the disco-vibe, and Bundick spits out couplets super quickly: “And you see the buffalo/just another one in the road.” The track also utilizes start and stop to create some drama, and just that easily you’re hooked.
The singles that we’ve already been graced with hearing make up the majority of the standout tracks on the album. Take “Empty Nesters,” as an example of pretty straightforward indie pop track, but a good one nonetheless. Later on there’s the positively groovy “Spell It Out,” which has got to be one of my favorites, if not my favorite track from this album because it grips you and holds you for its duration. The guitars on here are funky and psychedelic, swirling around the song with ease, almost giving you a bit of an Ariel Pink feel to it. Building on itself, the song really goes for that disco-pysch rock feel to it, blossoming into something you can surely get your feet dancing to.
The problem with What For? is that the good tracks really shine above the rest of the album. You’ll find yourself skipping airy tracks to get to those meaty grooves on which Bundick shines. When the album is good, it’s really good, but when you’re not in those solid tracks you can easily lose focus on the music at hand. In the future, the challenge for Toro Y Moi is to create a more cohesive work, but for now I’m okay with skipping some tracks now and then.