The “psychedelic album”. A right of passage. A trippy drippy right of passage. Executed well, an off-piste psych adventure can breathe new life into an artist, giving purpose after a mid-career lull. However, quite often, these records signal the start of a midlife crisis, the aural equivalent of buying a bright red convertible to take out on those balmy late summer weekends.
Mahal, Toro Y Moi’s seventh studio album, falls somewhere between these two extremes. The record manages to avoid pure self-indulgence whilst never really breaking new ground. Baggy opener ‘The Medium’ and the Funkadelic stylings of ‘Postman’ suggest that Toro y Moi would be wise to fully lean into this madness. The tracks threaten a brave new future for the former king of chillwave, one filled with technicolour lollipops and swirling caramel rainbows.
Unfortunately though, more often than not, the album falls back on an extremely radio-friendly sound. The faux-pop psychedelia of ‘Magazine’ and ‘Last Year’ offer no real substance, slipping away from funk oddity towards something akin to a decaf version of Jamiroquai. The reliance on the squeaky clean quickly becomes Mahal’s undoing. For every moment of greatness the listener is met with two or three tracks of airy paisley pop. This creates a lack of a consistent groove, sullying what at times promised to be a droopy, floating delight.
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