Adapt or die, the saying goes. But there’s no real caveat to that, no timespan to the demand, and it’s blatantly something Chaz Bear keeps in mind.
His seventh album as Toro Y Moi finds him tweaking and fine tuning his sound. Those cutely thin vocals only occasionally get the vocoder-esque treatment, and his woozy, summertime production remains rampant across the album’s ten tracks. But there’s a new, all-pervading feeling beneath this familiarity, one of self doubt, of a fear of ageing and even a creeping boredom of the material world which lends Chaz’s occasionally matter-of-fact delivery a potency. Songs fall into two camps - dancefloor oriented upbeat ones with choruses and vocal snippets that lodge in your memory (‘Fading’, ‘Freelance’ and the sexually cynical ‘Ordinary Pleasure’), and downright slow jams.
Of the latter, guest vocals from New York’s ABRA on ‘Miss Me’ bring a richer tone to the Toro Y Moi palette, despite the track’s brevity, and ambient producer Instupendo’s work on closer ‘50-50’ provokes some of the most melancholy, if mildly unsettling moods across the whole album.
“I feel like I’ve seen it all/Or maybe I’m just old,” he intones on ‘Ordinary Pleasure’. It could be a mission statement for ‘Outer Peace’, conjuring a platform of world-weariness from which he’s still willing to experiment and assimilate new ideas. Nothing here outstays its welcome, despite a run of slower tracks grouped at the record’s core, and besides, Chaz is there to guide the listener through new territories. A transitional work perhaps, but whichever fork in the road he follows next, you feel he’ll continue to adapt.