Though the current crop of indie R&B deconstructionists have put out several great albums—Frank Ocean's channel ORANGE, Miguel's Kaleidoscope Dreams and the Weeknd's Trilogy are the deservingly oft-cited examples—they're also records that you can't help but feel a little bummed out by. There's a millennial sobriety and existential drift at their heart. It's music for and about loneliness. Fans of alternative and/or indie R&B records who'd like a little more warmth and comfort need look no further than Toro Y Moi's third record, Anything in Return.
Though Anything feels downright sedate compared to 2011's disco-amphetamine-fueled Underneath the Pine, it still crackles with vibrancy. Where the Weeknd and their ilk often sound beamed from some distant, lost satellite, Anything feels comfortingly earthbound. Much R&B of the last 15 years, since around the time of TLC's FanMail, has embraced a science fiction aesthetic to comment on and channel the post-Internet era—airy productions full of background hiss; cybernetic, heavily filtered vocals. Anything looks to the past to ground itself, incorporating the trippy glow of 1970s funk and psychedelic soul on tracks like "High Living" and "So Many Details."
Anything's strength is how utterly human it sounds. Chadwick Bundick is not interested in turning himself into a cyborg; he'd rather channel Innervisions-era Stevie Wonder. Anything in Return makes a fine pairing with Bruno Mars' shockingly good Unorthodox Jukebox, as both records make satisfying contemporary pop/R&B by mining classic sounds.