It's not easy to pin down Toro y Moi and Chaz Bundick. Since he first started releasing music in 2009, one never quite knows what he's going to do next. From super-chilled bedroom pop to slick R&B-influenced jams, his albums have covered a lot of ground. Everything he does is relaxed and smoothed-out at its core, though -- that's the one thing to count on. On 2015's What For?, Bundick takes another unexpected left turn. Casting aside the late-night R&B of 2013's Anything in Return in favor of a guitar-heavy '70s approach, Bundick casts a wide net that includes bits and pieces of power pop, album rock, AM-ready soft rock, some fiery post-acid rock guitar riffing, and even a little disco. He proves to be a master of every stylistic avenue pursued here, turning in the catchiest songs he's written yet in the process. From the sparkling "Buffalo," which sounds like the best Seals & Crofts song never written, to the absolutely lovely "Run Baby Run," every song on the album sounds like it was borrowed from a K-Tel collection. Except perhaps "Yeah Right," which lasts for six slow grooving minutes and is the perfect AOR-style album closer, hair-raising guitar solo and all. What For? has Bundick taking a much more extroverted stance, with songs like the incredibly hooky "Empty Nesters" and shimmery disco confection "Spell It Out" showing more confidence and loose-limbed energy than he often does. Even the songs that have roots in the kind of chillwave he used to do, like the dream-inducing "Lilly," have his vocals higher in the mix and a less murky, more nuanced sound. Bundick must have known he was taking a risk of alienating his fans who looked to him for synth-filled music to soundtrack chilled nights and lazy mornings. Hopefully, they will be won over by the smooth grace with which he delivers his take on '70s pop and rock. No doubt anyone with a predilection for laid-back, good-time guitar rock will find lots of stuff to love here; so will people who like their pop unassuming and hooky as hell. There's no telling what the next Toro y Moi album might sound like; all that is certain is What For? is the best one so far, with Bundick really coming into his own as a songwriter, vocalist, and producer.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra