To this point, Chaz Bundick, aka Toro Y Moi, has worn most of his influences on his sleeve — tapping deeply, for instance, into the Beach Boys’ labyrinthine Pet Sounds and the J Dilla school of hip-hop deconstruction. His 2010 debut Causers of This was a promising suite of quasi-psychedelic dream-pop sketches, while the follow-up Underneath the Pine continued the thread with left turns into quirky Casiotone electropop and French hip-house. Anything in Return radically expands the scope, oscillating between minimalist techno (“Rose Quartz”) and trippy guitar-fueled soul (“Studies”) in smooth and effortless leaps, with lyrics that take a hard look at relationships, break-ups and breaking away.
It is clearer than ever that Bundick has moved decisively beyond the chillwave sound he helped define. Granular electronic beats, bubbly synths, stacked samples and Bundick’s mellifluous, double-tracked vocals continue to drive the narrative, but the songs are suffused with a sense of pulling up roots for parts unfamiliar (“We could be there now/ And I’d rather drive it through the night,” he sings in the album’s high-flying opener “Harm in Change”) — a restlessness that shows itself in the Rundgren-ish production values of the aptly titled “So Many Details” or the layered harmonies and space-funk feel of “Never Matter,” which conjures Dream Weaver-era Gary Wright in all his overwrought glory. It’s very nearly a concept album with travel as its theme — created, after all, in Bundick’s new Bay Area home following a cross-country move from his native South Carolina — but more than that, it’s a coming-out party for a mature songsmith who sounds eager to stretch beyond his comfort zone.