‘Like It Or Not’, the airy first track from Canada-via-Brooklyn electronica duo Bob Moses’ (yes, it’s a singular name for two musicians) debut long player ‘Days Gone By’ begins with little fuss. A disquieting piano line coupled with textured beats ushers in the opening gambit, “Like it or not, you know it’s true. There isn’t much that you can do. Feeling so small, you feel it too.” Song titles like ‘Tearing Me Up’, Writing On The Wall’, ‘Keeping Me Alive’, and ‘Before I Fall’ let you know that this is a band who know what it feels like to be hurting. Optimism is for winners. Move along. There’s nothing for you here.
Looped percussion, mid-tempo dancefloor burners and brooding minimalist electro-pop songs with the odd sprinkling of piano here or funky rhythm guitar lick there talk of emotions kept close the chest, secret lusting, intense regret, and aching reminiscence on mistakes of the heart. You know the score. We’ve all been there, right? The vocals (I’m not sure who provides these as the CD slipcase bears little information) are remindful of Chris Martin to these ears, but rather than aim for the sanguine chest-swelling love songs the stadium rock colossus is famous for, Bob Moses’ less grandiose sights are set firmly on runner-up feels. Don’t let the Coldplay comparison put you off by the way. You’re better than that.
I first came across Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance’s work in April of this year when their ‘All In All’ EP compilation was released on Record Store Day. It didn’t sell in the record shop I work in on the day as the LP got buried under the inevitable avalanche of exclusive big name product. A few days after RSD we picked out a copy, put it on the turntable and I instantly wished I’d heard it earlier. Its crystalline production and headphone-friendly seductive house cuts coupled with searingly honest and deeply introspective lyrics drew me in and we spent several days playing the set at work before selling all the remaining copies in barely an hour one Saturday afternoon. Somewhat stupidly, I forgot to take a copy home myself. Idiot.
The American duo’s compelling brand of Electronic Dance Music-meets-traditional-guitar-band isn’t a recent phenomenon, but it’s a balancing act that is often quite difficult to pull off successfully. One thinks of the relatively small number of acts like Dirty Vegas and their somewhat presciently-titled 2002 track ‘Days Go By’ or elements of the now defunct LCD Soundsystem to remind one of how it’s done well. More recently, fellow New York act Twin Shadow (George Lewis Jr.) is successfully bridging the gap between dancefloor and organic band, and it’s at this market that Bob Moses ‘ atmospheric and reflective dance compositions are aimed squarely. Thankfully the band manages to create a highly personal (not to mention tasteful) album which should result in crossover success. Their likeable songs, ten in total on this album, are unrushed, imminently listenable, and will strike a chord with the disenchanted and/or romantics everywhere. The world and everything in it hurts in 2015. You know that. I know that. Bob Moses knows that. To hell with it all though. Shall we just dance?