Music Box

 |  January 28, 2013

Toro Y Moi – Anything in Return

After making strides towards more disco-

inflected electronic music on his second album Underneath the Pines, Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick seems to be reverting back to the murky chillwave of his debut. Largely gone are the funky keyboard lines and the Daft Punk leanings, while even the better songs never quite reach danceability. Nothing here is as immediate or memorable as the better songs on Pines, and most of the tracks, despite promising intros, seem to turn into waves of same-sounding synthesizers. All of that being said, there is still plenty to appreciate here, and repeated listens reveal several layers of sound that seem to lie just underneath the beat. It is only disappointing in light of the direction that Toro Y Moi’s career seemed to be heading.  

Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God

On his first full-length solo effort, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James scales back the bigness of his regular band for a more personal sounding album. While the production is lighter, the variety of sounds only furthers the ideas James pushed in recent MMJ albums. ‘Know Til Now’ features a dubby electronic breakbeat and ends with a jazzy shuffle that sounds like it’s being played on a Victrola in a room down the hall. Keyboards, horns, and horn-like synthesizers dominate throughout, while guitars don’t noticeably show up until five songs in on ‘A New Life.’ Besides the outro of this song the album never gets above mid-tempo, but James’ ethereal singing carries the album along anyway. Resembling a less complex version of Radiohead’s recent King of Limbs, Regions is an enjoyable if small release that never quite rocks but doesn’t really need to. 

Various Artists – Girls, Vol. 1: Music from the HBO Original Series

The companion album to Lena Dunham’s much talked about HBO series comes across like one of the character’s iPods on shuffle. It has a fairly even mix of strummy-guitar pop, mid-level indie rock, and hot dance tracks. Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ is the perfect opener, as it was featured in one of the show’s more memorable scenes in which Hannah and best friend Marnie dance semi-triumphantly in their apartment after a disappointing night out. What follows is a collection of mostly good songs that suffer from bad sequencing. The otherwise apropos ‘Girls’ by Santigold feels out of place stuck between the light pop of Harper & Simon’s ‘Wishes and Stars’ and White Sea’s ‘Overdrawn’. Similarly, Tegan & Sara’s surprisingly sweet cover of the Stone’s ‘Fool to Cry’ gets lost between the slamming ‘Infinity Guitars’ of Sleigh Bells and Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’. Tracks by Fleet Foxes and Belle & Sebastian do nicely capture the tone of the show, while others seem more like tacked-on filler.