Album Review: Toro Y Moi – Outer Peace
Toro Y Moi – Outer Peace (Carpark Records)
WUSC’s most notable alum, Toro y Moi, a.k.a. Chaz Bear, is back at it again with his newest project, Outer Peace. I have spent the entirety of the past week listening to this album on repeat (this is not an exaggeration I promise), and if you take away only one thing from reading this article, know that this shit rips. Outer Peace is a shift away from his last project, Boo Boo. With increased tempo across (mostly) the entire board, you won’t have any problem jamming along to this funkadelic neo-R&B/pop masterpiece. I can not tell you how elated this made me, for while I can appreciate a slower ballad here and there, I definitely prefer songs that are guaranteed to get me up and moving. This isn’t just your ole’ run of the mill dance album though. Oh no. Outer Peace is much more than that. Bear in this album touches on many real life problems and experiences that most young adults are facing. Speaking as a fellow young adult, I can tell you that he really didn’t have to come for me that hard. I may or not feel personally attacked here but hey, it’s good music so I’ll let it slide.
His intro, Fading, he describes how he feels as though his sphere of knowledge is disintegrating, leaving him in this uncomfortable state of unknowing and doubt, with only the faith that things will just work out/he will figure things out. You also delve into a troubled love life in one of the lead singles, Ordinary Pleasure, with flame after flame fizzling out, with nothing in sight that seems lasting, and feelings of uncertainty in one’s own self in Who I Am. Struggling with all of these tumultuous thoughts can drive anyone insane, however Bear doesn’t let that get him down, explaining in Laws of the Universe that he is confident in his own abilities and that this confidence can outweigh his doubts. Not only that but in the other lead single, Freelance, he takes pride in his ability to overcome problems and further find himself in the process, being “down for whatever, [he] think[s] [he] let go”, and in Monte Carlo, he discusses being frustrated with others inability to get him where he needs to go, taking it upon himself to get to his destination.
I think the middle three songs of Miss Me, New House, and Baby Drive It Down are my favorite on the album. First off, dear god ABRA’s vocals are absolutely phenomenal I mean, her vocals alone probably make this my favorite track on the album despite being one of the slowest songs on the album. Anyway, these three songs all seem to paint a larger scene when looked at as a whole. In Miss Me, you have ABRA singing (seemingly) to a lost lover wanting them back, and the entire track is sung by her. This is followed up by Bear, in New House, coming off of his flight being bombarded by a flurry of messages on his phone that cause him to become anxious and confused, leaving him wanting nothing more than somewhere to call home and take a long shower. To me it seems like the lover in Miss Me that was lost was Bear, and his ex was trying to contact him during his flight. And in Baby Drive It Down, Bear is contacting what seems to be the same lover, not wanting to talking to her about what has happened but just wanting her to come and see him. I could be completely off the mark and these songs have nothing to do with each other, but the closeness of the subject matter and the placement of the songs seems to coincidental, at least to me.
To summarize, Outer Peace is about traversing through the miasma of uncertainty/doubt to find one’s self in an ever-changing world, described in a funky pop dreamscape that is a hell of a lot more fun to listen to than actually experience.