Nostalgia is a journey, not a destination for Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick. The South Carolina producer's sophomore release, Underneath the Pine, shares the astral-disco aesthetic of contemporaries like Neon Indian and Washed Out, but Bundick's sound is too expansive, and his narrative too grounded in a dark present, to place him anywhere on the dreaded chillwave continuum.
The songs on Underneath the Pine are dominated by a fear of being alone. There's no beatific ambience, no happy, distant dreams — there's little distance at all between the notes, and Toro Y Moi fills in what little space there is with his vocals; they're delayed and stretched till they almost fade out — but there's a catharsis in those notes. Throughout, Toro Y Moi escapes his fear in melody: "New Beat" and "Still Sound" brim with a bass-driven funk that recalls danceable standout "Blessa" from previous Toro outing Causers of This.
The results are even more rewarding when Toro Y Moi abandons electro-dance tropes. Their sparsest track is their most distinctive: instrumental interlude "Divina" glows with sanguine piano notes that fall further apart as the song progresses. Underneath the Pine works because it never settles into one sustained mood: It's a series of sonic states, designed to provide refuge.