MAHAL by Toro y Moi album review by Stephan Boissonneault. The full-length is now available via Dead Ocean and streaming services

Dead Oceans

6

Toro y Moi

Mahal

The California-based multi-instrumentalist/producer/everything else, Chaz Bear, more commonly referred to as Toro y Moi, has been a musical chameleon with every one of his albums post Anything in Return, and What For?—which ARE still to this day regarded as progenitors for the popularity of the chillwave genre.

An album from Toro y Moi has always been psychedelic or kaleidoscopic in tendency, but for his latest effort, MAHAL it seems like he ran with this theme hard. And the album is good and the songs are grooving, utilizing some 70s Pink Floyd space rock in the opener “The Medium,” or the Funkadelic style of “Postman,” the prophetic vocal style of Tame Impala’s older worked like Inner Speaker, but I feel like Toro y Moi’s new venture may be lost to time, what with the ever-constant dump and increase of new music post-COVID lockdowns.

The reasoning for this is that so many albums in the last five years are doing the exact same thing. You can list Thundercat, khruangbin, Tame Impala, King Gizzard, Babe Rainbow, the list goes on forever. Again, MAHAL, is a really sweet-sounding album, but it, unfortunately, doesn’t have enough eccentricities to be one Toro y Moi is known for. Maybe I’ve just become numb to these chillwave psych albums, that have been a dime a penny in recent years. “The Loop” has a bit of staying power but sounds like an Anderson .Paak clone.

And this should not be a problem, but for a guy like Toro y Moi, who has been around for more than a decade and has been nominated for a grammy, I expected more. The album is also very radio-friendly and mainstream-sounding, kind of the exact opposite of much of Toro’s past work. If there was a Toro y Moi sound generator, lots of MAHAL’s songwriting would appear behind a thin veil of overdone, fake psych-pop.

MAHAL made me sift through Toro y Moi’s old back catalogue. It made me crave songs from Anything in Return, What For? And even 2018’s Outer Peace. It actually changed my initial impressions of some of his past work. I really hope this is just a speed bump for Toro y Moi and he surprises me again in the future.

Pre-order Mahal by Toro Y Moi HERE