Chaz Bear, better known as Toro y Moi, combines the glossy sounds of synth-pop and electronic music with the moodiness of R&B on his sixth studio album, Outer Peace. Citing the accessible dance sound of Daft Punk as a major influence, Bear breaks away from the “chillwave” scene in perhaps his boldest project yet.
Outer Peace feels like an experiment, as much as it is an analysis of the disposable culture we live in. Bear ditches his signature “bedroom pop” style and taps more into the sounds of house music and heavily auto-tuned vocals, which nicely compliment the computer-disco vibe going on here. He even cleverly references Daft Punk through another reference to an LCD Soundsystem song with the line “James Murphy is spinning at my house.”
“Ordinary Pleasure” gives us the first glimpse of what becomes a recurring theme throughout the album – exhaustion and digital fatigue. Bear makes it clear that he is experiencing a disconnect with the world around him. “Does sex even sell anymore? / I feel like I’ve seen it all / Or maybe I’m just old.”
Meanwhile, “New House” is the anthem of a post-recession era, with lyrics alluding to financial insecurity and uncertainty. “I want a brand new house / Something I cannot buy / something I can afford,” Bear says. Lead single, “Freelance” boasts some of the most interesting lyrics on the album, with references to popular British sci-fi series Black Mirror and materialism in the form of the upscale clothing brand, Patagonia.
Outer Peace essentially feels like pop from the future, both stylistically and thematically. As Bear expresses his own sentiment about being a musician, he is simultaneously speaking about what could be seen as the fate of all artists in a digital age. Outer Peace speaks to heightened anxiety in the modern world and the feeling of wanting to escape and find peace outside of all of the noise.