June 2009. Toro Y Moi‘s release this year is the auditory representation of a teenager at their most selfish, most trapped adolescent moment. Within the lyrics are the confessions found on pages in each of our own heartbroken awkward diaries. Personal scrawls dictating the roller coaster of one tiny confusing life. Musically, it’s the same languorous indulgence in sound that draws the ear to Real Estate, so fuzzed out at so many points it is practically see-through, but so lovingly and delicately are the sounds constructed that the transparency holds, strong as wire mesh.
The sound quality of this record is similar to a song heard on an old school little portable Sony boom box, or the way favorite tapes get when they were almost worn out from too many listens. Album opener ‘Best Around’ is also the standout track on the record, with drums that are interesting enough to almost not make sense with the song and a pop-fleck guitar line that melts into the aimless directive “Call me soon / I don’t have anything to do“.
2009 was only 3 years ago but the age of these recordings feels a lot older than that because of their lo-fi quality and juvenile song topics. Not to say the songs are bad or by any means underdeveloped, they’re purposefully young, they deal with those achy breaky heart issues that only those of us young enough to still give a shit about our hearts can actually face them.
They aren’t trying to take on the music industry, change the world or even do anything at all, kind of like a teenager stuck in a bedroom with no money and no car, they’re an image of what it feels like to be young and totally focused on a solitary crumb of pain, as illustrated in ‘Girl Problems’.
This record is something like a field studded with daisies, at once almost boring and yet, in the right moment the most enjoyable thing ever. ‘Take The L To Leave’ begins with the mindless through-the-wall-TV sound that haunted all of our youths and slyly circles back around to center on the all too obvious cry of “it’s not fair” that plagued all teenage mutants at their most selfish peak. Even the reference to the L train itself draws my mind to the stunted growth of Williamsburg locals and their desire to be ever more inward glancing, even more outward facing.
That spaced out garage-meets-electronic-rock that Toro Y Moi is beloved for appears here in almost a cocooned form. June 2009 endlessly orbits around what appears to be a hint of what Toro Y Moi will eventually go on to create. ‘Ektelon’, which should be wet, fast-moving and happily immersed in water feels like being stuck on dry land while the one you want floats away. Towards the end of the record hints of growth do begin to take shape. ‘Drive South’ offers an escape from the sophomoric with a guitar line that finally sounds savagely adult.
‘Warm Frames’ and ‘New Loved Ones’ form a lullaby-like couplet that closes the record with the devastating realization dawning that growing up is not just a few more rungs higher on the ladder of age, but a complete loss of that childhood freedom that’s already been squandered. ‘Warm Frames’ mourns this loss in easy terms while ‘New Loved Ones’ offers a strangely religious future that mimics the radically odd transformations many choose when faced with adult life.
Never boring through the meta-obsession formed within its own ennui, what could be more self-serving than to retrospectively release earlier work as a new record? As if it could be an indication of the present artist? No, it is in fact a fond recollection of Toro Y Moi himself, by Toro Y Moi himself, and this kind of self-celebration can only ever feel juvenile. Delightfully unformed but going nowhere this record is as useless and magically meaningful as a balloon bought at a fair.
Words: Caitlin White.