Chaz Bear talks inner and “Outer Peace” in Toro y Moi album

In Lifestyle, Music, Reviews
An illustration of the title of new Toro y Moi album "Outer Peace."

In its simplest form, the term inner peace idealizes some semblance of internal harmony.

Toro y Moi’s 10-track album, “Outer Peace,” was released on Jan. 18 and runs half an hour long.

“Outer Peace” broaches the abstract idea of external tranquility through the lens of Chaz Bear (formerly Chaz Bundick) — frontman, producer and sole creator of the ever-eclectic, indie synth-pop — Toro y Moi.

Only Toro y Moi’s sixth album since signing with Carpark Records in 2009, “Outer Peace,” stands to be one of Toro y Moi’s greatest albums to date, rivaling the litany of hits produced since releasing his first record “Causers of This” with Carpark Records in 2010.

“Outer Peace” showcases Toro y Moi’s unique ability to build on many of the same manufactured, synth-laden and sampled elements of a typical Toro y Moi record.

While the sound of “Outer Peace” might not seem vastly different from Toro y Moi’s more recent album release, “Boo Boo” (2017), “Outer Peace” explores inherently different ideas than their 2017 release.

One of the ways in which “Outer Peace” highlights Toro y Moi’s developed musical and lyrical prowess is through its ability to bridge together a collection of songs, not necessarily by way of style or technique, but through thematic and symbolic means.

Prevalent themes, like inquiry into personal identity, or journey into comfortability with oneself, ring throughout Toro y Moi’s newest piece; it helps signify what he might be suggesting in trying to comprehend the grander notions associated with the album’s title.

Songs like “Freelance” and “Ordinary Pleasure,” explore more introspective inquiries that Toro y Moi poses to himself, while other tracks like “Laws of the Universe,” “Who I Am” and “Monte Carlo,” exemplify the journey toward personal harmony in one’s thoughts, choices or beliefs.

Both “Freelance” and “Ordinary Pleasure” ask questions like, “I can’t tell if I’m hip or getting old,” and “Does sex even sell anymore, I feel like I’ve seen it all?” according to Genius, a website that provides music lyrics for a wide range of songs.

These questions propose the idea of self-reflection and personal identity. The song’s funky, light-hearted, dancing tunes might be better suited for a sunny car ride down Pacific Coast Highway, more so than a thought-provoking dive into existentialism.

“Who I Am” and “Monte Carlo” express an inherent comfortability and finality with Toro y Moi’s thoughts and decisions, lyrics like, “I’m done with the bridges, I made enough to live with,” or “Who cares about the party? I came to see the band play.”

Even the final line from “Laws of the Universe,” “I don’t give a f—,” reiterates the idea that Toro y Moi has only himself to please.

“Outer Peace” makes a strong case for consideration alongside Toro y Moi’s top works, even without the added layers of subtext or extra dimensions of interwoven symbolism. At its core, Toro y Moi’s latest release is a concise list of carefree hits that represent a maturation in Toro y Moi’s abilities to produce, perform and progress over a short period of time.

While Billboard’s Top 200 album list has “Outer Peace” sitting at a criminally low 114, Toro y Moi’s latest creation has garnered the support of many in the music industry, including Pitchfork’s Phillip Sherburne. Sherburne called “Outer Peace,” “one of (Toro y Moi’s) best albums in years.”

The sad truth is that Toro y Moi’s music may never get the credit it deserves in mainstream music media, but so long as there is a willingness to indulge in sophisticated, synthesized-indie pop, Toro y Moi stands to have a long career in music making. “Outer Peace” is just another sonically euphoric step in the right direction.

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