Toro y Moi - MAHAL
May 11, 2022 (updated May 19, 2022)
80
I admit to not being familiar with much of Toro y Moi's previous work. I definitely heard of him (For the longest time, I thought this was a duo) and his features on other albums from people like Travis Scott and The Avalanches, but I never had a good grasp of how the project's own music was. I wasn't even thinking of listening to this album until I got recommended so many of the singles from the "New Music" playlist I listen to on Youtube, I'm very happy to have listened to "MAHAL", as it took me for a nice experience I didn't expect. It's a trippy but still enjoyable album with a lot of great guitar work, bass playing, and singing all around. Many of these songs are set up to bring vibes to you and most of them work really well for me. There are some tracks that don't hit as well as the highlights on this album, whether it be due to length of the track or not really sticking out from the track-list, but nothing here ruins the amazing journey that is given when songs like "The Medium" or "The Loop" are playing. It's definitely for a specific mood that not everyone will enjoy or like, but it's a mood that really made me happy in general.

(My Long Notes for Each Track and Scores)

The Medium - Starting off with an instrumental. Amazing psychedelic sound to this one. Great guitars and bass grooves throughout this. Drumming is pretty solid too (89)

Goes By So Fast - Another pretty great track. Not as huge as the previous song, but still a good feel to this. Love the saxophone throughout the track as well. The singing and the lyrics, for as small as they are, work really well (85)

Magazine - Compared to the first two tracks, a bit of the step down. Still not a bad song, the grooves are still there, especially at the end with the guitar solo, and I really like Salami Rose Joe Louis' voice. It might just be the first half seems a little more run of the mill for this kind of genre. The sound isn't as impressive and can be a little boring if it dragged on like that. There are also the lyrics, which I don't mind touching on subjects like environmentalism and emotional distress, but certain lines do come off a little heavy handed ("Nothing here to see, factories overseas/Cut down all these trees, we buildin' Model T's"). This is still a solid track, with a lot to still appreciate and fits well with the flow of the album. (72)

Mr. Postman - This was one of the singles I heard from the album and one that took a while to grow on me. I found the bass that's prominently heard to be a little clunky at first and the random yelling to be off. Listening to it now, I think the bass has a lot of great groove to it and the awkwardness might actually be intentional. It would fit well with the lyrics about waiting for a letter from a loved one, sounding desperate with each time he mentions the postman. The small intro skit was pretty cute as well and perfectly sums up the cutesy but emotional vibe of this track. The screams in the track are clearly Prince inspired and work a lot better for me now. Great tune overall (87)

The Loop - Holy crap, this song is an absolute amazing vibe. The guitar throughout literally feels transcending, starting off very chill and good background noise before coming alive during the instrumental break. The synth are also amazing, they work very well with the guitar and swell with that 70s soul sound that has become popular lately. It does just enough to be paying homage instead of just ripping off the sound entirely, so it sounds great and in Toro y Moi's style. The singing has never been better here, blending well with the instrumental and perfectly fitting with the lyrics about needing to stay in the loop with what's going on around him. The second verse might stray a little off topic, but it still brings with amazing imagery. One of the best tracks I've heard this year, definitely need to listen to this. (93)

Last Year - This song switches up the sound a little bit, leaning more towards some jazz funk with the synth breakdown between verses, as well as bass technique not too different from many 70s jazz albums. This proves to still be very catchy and fits well with the rest of the album. It has a lot of catchy parts and the singing still works amazingly with the instrumental. The last minute is pretty interesting, changing the tempo and vocal pitching throughout which works for keeping the psychedelic atmosphere without disturbing the flow of the song too much. (86)

Mississippi - This track feels more like an interlude than anything. It's easily the shortest song here as it's less than 2 minutes and is a much slower song compared to the rest of the album. Still not bad though, good singing and some more neat guitar playing, as well as audio switch ups to make the track go from sounding normal to sound like being underwater. Just not the track I might go back to often (69)

Clarity - We return back to the great vibes with some great drums and guitar playing throughout. The psychedelic jazz switch up on the end is pretty good too and Chaz's singing is once again amazing and really work with these trippy but still impactful because of the way everything is worded ("Golden State, the life in precious blue/Smiling his fateful smile, a joke onto you"). I admit the feature Sofia Reyer didn't really leave much impact on me, as her singing really doesn't give off the same energy as Toro y Moi and sounds a little bland on this instrumental. Granted she had so little to do it was impossible to get more, since she takes up more of the background vocals than the actual verse. She doesn't ruin the song, but I wished there was more to the feature. (79)

Foreplay - This is another one of the slower tracks on the album, mixing some sounds of some funk jazz and even psychedelic rock around the end. It's a lot more laid back and honestly the biggest instrument used in this song is the audio mixing, constantly bringing in more and less reverb to make it sound muddy and clean in a matter of seconds. There's also some chopping around the end with the drums and guitar, both of which sound very chill for this album. Definitely a good track for chilling and admiring the production technique, although not much I would return to. (74)

Deja Vu - This is an interesting track where despite being another laid back song, there is still a lot being done here. The song seems to be getting off a vibe of psychedelic rock from the 70s (maybe even slightly southern rock too?) with some dense guitar sounds and lighter drumming. It also is lyrically more dense, not only because there are more verses on here, but in it's subject matter about being completely chained to the feelings of an ex lover and comparing it with own town. This was also a song I heard early on and was mixed with, but now that I understand what Chaz was going for, it really works a lot more for me. Nothing outstanding, but also a pretty different feeling from the rest of the album. (80)

Way Too Hot - This was easily the weakest tracks on the album, at least for me. It's not a bad track, the psychedelic rock vibe is still pretty nice and the singing fits it well, but this is the first track in which it doesn't really do much besides the bare bones of what this kind of genre is suppose to do in a song. That might kind of be the point, it's essentially about smoking weed and I'm sure music like this fits that aurora very well, but I think it just doesn't leave any impact on me. (59)

Millenium - Thankfully all my worries of the album heading in the wrong direction from the last track are immediately washed off from this track. Back to a lot more funky material, we have some more groovy bass guitars with some impressive drumming that really help throughout this whole track. The thick synth chords that appear every once and again also give a nice burst of energy. This one definitely aims to have "feel-good" energy and it absolutely works, especially with some of the sweetest songwriting yet ("I know at times you wish you could just disappear/But maybe just tonight wе'll celebrate the year"). Excellent bounce back from the album (87)

Days in Love - Good to see the album end in a bang, with some great synth and vocals parts. This is one that oddly reminded me of Yes (the band) especially with the layered higher vocals in the verses and the synth chord in the background. On top of that, there is some great guitar playing through the track that helps with the psychedelic mood the project goes for. Needless to say, a pretty good finish to the trip the album takes you in. (84)

Track Ratings
1The Medium / 89
2Goes By So Fast / 85
3Magazine / 72
4Postman / 87
5The Loop / 93
6Last Year / 86
7Mississippi / 69
8Clarity / 79
9Foreplay / 74
10Déjà Vu / 80
11Way Too Hot / 59
12Millennium / 87
13Days in Love / 84
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