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Toro y Moi - Mahal (Album Review)

Friday, 06 May 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

The seventh studio album from Toro y Moi, the chillwave producer and performer also known as Chaz Bear, has been five years in the making. ‘Mahal’ is a smooth cruise through the psychelia of the 1970s and ‘80s with stop-offs at skronky surf, yacht rock and bassy funk. In many ways, it’s a success.

It is a marvellously produced, vintage-sounding 13-track record that would perfectly soundtrack a Californian evening drive. It’s not the most arresting or memorable listen, but is it meant to be? This is called chillwave after all.

That said, there are some special moments. Clarity, which features Sofie Royer, is a hypnotic chugger, full of fantastical effects and diaphanous singing. It spins and cascades with chunky beats and the familiar Fender Rhodes tinkles that feel like a bedrock of the Toro y Moi sound. 

Elsewhere, Postman has similarly high quality but with a very different vibe. This song is a low slung groover that deals with the simple yet charming subject matter of receiving mail.

The distinctive whimsy of this track is a bit of a double edged sword: the storytelling moves the song towards being a bit of a novelty hit, but the fundamental quality of the performance saves it.

It brings to mind another musician in funk bassist and bandleader, Thundercat. Despite the genre differences, there is similar instrumentation alongside a sense of satirical fun that runs throughout both artists’ outputs. Unfortunately for Toro y Moi, that comparison is not always favourable. On ‘Mahal’ that is clear on tracks that feel incredibly tight and smooth, but which lack the energy and virtuosity of the other musician.

All of which somehow seems to miss the point. This is a relaxed album for chilled-out cats, and that should make it a success, yet too often it feels like we have tuned into a fictional radio station from the video game Grand Theft Auto. Maybe that was the aim, but either way, ‘Mahal’ is an excellent case study in crafting a vintage sound experience, but you may be onto the next thing as soon as the record's over.

Toro Y Moi Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue October 11 2022 - BRIGHTON Chalk
Wed October 12 2022 - LONDON St John at Hackney Church
Thu October 13 2022 - MANCHESTER New Century Hall
Fri October 14 2022 - DUBLIN Academy

Compare & Buy Toro Y Moi Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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