Chaz Bundick's solo album debut as Toro Y Moi, Causers Of This, isn't unique because of its definitive wash of nostalgia. Clearly a great number of modern artists find their inspiration in looking backwards. What's most remarkable is its ability to access what feel like these lost sensory memories, with truncated snippets of well-worn and familiar analog sounds presented in quick succession like a blur of flash cards, snagging you on one memory before propelling you towards the next. Citing French house, R&B, indie rock and psychedelia as influences, Bundick collects them all into a kaleidoscopic homage to musical remembrance and postmodern genre mashing.
The dreamy folktronica of "Blessa" is goosed by sneaky b-boy record drags, before the simple synth pop of "Minors" explodes into a dense Animal Collective chorus, followed by "Imprint After" where Bundick channels Pharell Williams over a snaky Latin rhythm and lo-fi beats snatched from Nite Jewel. "Lissoms" is the bastard child of Daft Punk and Akufen, and morphs seamlessly into the shuffle-scrape-jerk hip-hop soul of "Fax Shadow," a worthwhile facsimile of the imperfectly perfect J Dilla, followed by another left turn into the alt-electro-pop and MGMT harmonies of "Thanks Vision."
Bundick's manipulation of his own limited vocal range adds to the dreamlike reverie. Lyrics are shrouded in reverb and slip in and out of comprehension, often dissolving entirely into vapor. When he does step to the fore, it's as a precocious child-man with romance on his mind. "Freak Love" is more innocent than it wants to be, its wordless bridge and slow-jam swing betraying its sweetness, followed by the unworldly lyrics of "Talamak" ("How can I tell if I love you anymore? Never mind. I know I do."), and the schoolyard R&B of "Causers Of This" which would make a young New Edition proud, in between its own surprise electro-disco cut-ups.
With all this referencing, Causers Of This could very easily topple over, unbalanced by its own intense navel-gazing, but what keeps it upright and gazing skywards is the light and joy that seeps out between the layers and edges of Bundick's arrangements; each track is lit by early morning summer haze and sepia sunsets as he manufactures sunshine with banks of fusty hardware.
There's a lot of hype around Causers Of This, and this likely won't be the end of it. But theorizing aside: if anyone can mitigate the harsh reality of a bleak and icy winter, with an album that recalls the warmth of sun on skin, the heady flush of teenage romance, and the thrill of falling head-over-heels in love with music for the first time, then please make some room as I clamber aboard the already crowded bandwagon for Toro Y Moi.