Toro y Moi

Causers of This

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Toro y Moi (aka Chaz Bundick, who began making bedroom recordings under that name in 2001) was slated to release his first two albums in 2010, and Causers of This is the first of them. Causers of This sounds like a dance-pop mixtape plunged underwater -- it's all smeary synthesizers, chopped-up dance beats, and washes of reverb. In other words, it's a sound similar to that of Neon Indian or Washed Out (which makes sense, seeing how Washed Out's Ernest Greene and Bundick were friends well before this album came out). Causers of This' main appeal is in its subtlety, and there's real pleasure to be found in all the little sonic tweaks and doodads Bundick has tucked into each track (a ghostly mesh of sampled vocals on "Fax Shadow"; a delicate drumbeat echoing, as if suspended midair, on "Minors"). But in the face of how imaginative and meticulously crafted it is, Causers of This is surprisingly forgettable. It's not that the album isn't interesting (it is!); it's simply that no one track sticks out. "Blessa," with its haunting, chant-like lyrics ("Come home in the summer...It's all right/I'll fill you in, fill you in") comes close, but comes to an end before it really hits its stride; "Minors" gets closer (Bundick's reedy vocals offer a nice contrast to the track's big basslines, booming reverb, and swollen synths), but it lacks a pronounced hook; and "Low Shoulder," a dancy, squinchy single, something like a sweet, shy mash-up of Pacific! and Cut Copy, comes so close it almost hurts (leading one to wonder why it wasn't given a spot earlier in the album). That said, Causers of This is a promising album; it's well worth a spin or two if, say, you're a fan of Neon Indian in the mood for something a little more introspective, and it's reason enough to stick around for Bundick's sophomore effort.

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