What happens when deep house meets live instruments and sultry singing? The genre is smack in the middle of a renaissance period, and the innovation of the producers involved takes the genre to new heights day by day. One welcome addition to deep house has been live elements, notably instruments and vocals. New York-based duo Bob Moses epitomize this trend perhaps better than anyone; member Jimmy Vallance creates blissful, deep instrumentals, while counterpart Tow Howie plays guitar and sings with a downcast yet mesmerizing voice.
The duo just released their debut album Days Gone By, and with it Bob Moses makes a strong case for being one of the hottest rising acts in electronic music today. While previous singles emphasized the techno production over the live aspects, this debut LP straddles the line between the two halves just enough to give their music a pop sheen. Make no mistake, moody production plays a critical role in the album, but it works more cohesively with Howie’s singing than it ever has in the past.
A somber tone dominates Days Gone By, punctuated by emotive guitar licks and lone piano keys. The opening track “Like It Or Not”, sets the mood excellently: cascading drums, dance-ready claps, and Howie delivering lyrics like, “Like it or not you know it’s true.” This eclectic mixture carries throughout the album, but Bob Moses ensure to diversify each track so that the overall atmosphere of the album never wears its welcome. However, the tracks never experiment too much, and the potential for genre-defying tracks definitely exists for this duo.
The subject matter of the tracks is the one key element that remains similar throughout, with Howie singing about topics like lost love, lust, and infidelity. In “Tearing Me Up”, an album highlight, Howie paints a picture of a man being seduced by a women already in a relationship. Vallance juxtaposes the dark subject matter with a groovy bassline and snaps, and Howie plays along with vocal patterns that sound fit for a dance club. This divide could be explored more in future releases, as the other tracks never reach quite the groovy ceiling “Tearing Me Up” hits.
Other tracks scale the energy down to give both members time to refine their sound. On titular track “Days Gone By”, a lone synth complements Howie’s grave lyrics, focused on times (and perhaps love) passed. “Before I Fall” also fits the grey mold, complete with a gripping guitar lick and Howie urging that he’s “gonna need someone strong to catch [him] before [he] falls.” Not the sort of lyrics one would picture with the clubs of Ibiza and New York City, but the instrumentals do a great job of bouncing the energy up.
The songs work best when the layers build up to create an emotional climax, as demonstrated by “Too Much Is Never Enough.” The track begins quietly, with drums and guitar chords heard far in the distance. Howie’s voice creates a light for the listener to use as a navigator, and the growing instrumentals bring bright light to a track that began in darkness. Bob Moses excel in creating mood, and it’s no wonder their music appealed to the deep house lovers since they first started releasing singles.
With Days Gone By, Bob Moses touches on poppy melodies just enough to find a larger audience without alienating their established fanbase. It’s a very strong debut, but we urge the duo to pursue some diversity when it comes to their next work. Given the live presence on the album, the group’s live show should organically represent the new songs and mix well with the previous tracks of their career.
Want a chance to win a copy of Days Gone By, a signed copy of their EP First to Cry, and tickets to their show at Double Door in Chicago? Check out our React Presents giveaway for more info.