Music

'Desire' Shows Electronic Duo Bob Moses Thinking Big

Photo: Lucas.Mk / Courtesy of Falcon Publicity

Desire is a successful expansion of Bob Moses' previous standard pop album format into the more grandiose club mix format, one that hints at further creative developments in the group's future.

Desire
Bob Moses

Domino

28 August 2020

New York-founded, Vancouver-grown, Los Angeles-based duo Bob Moses found their musical niche early on: smooth, gloomy synthpop with subtly driving beats, a balancing act between richly indulgent melancholy and tight grooves that speaks to the members' backgrounds, Tom Howie's in rock and Jimmy Vallance's in trance. Thus far, it's been successful, the Bob Moses sound technically polished, emotionally resonant, and reasonably catchy.

Armed with this tried-and-true style, Howie and Vallance think bigger on EP Desire, a set of six continuously-mixed tracks that contemplate the inescapable perils of modern longing over slick club beats. The production is exceptional, its classic trance rhythms crafted with a sense of multidimensionality, a full atmosphere from bass-end depths to the occasional addition of soaring, symphonic violins. It's easy to imagine a sweaty, neon-lit crowd dancing to Desire from start to finish in a more medically normal year, which makes taking apart the sounds here even more interesting.

There are, after all, more than just straightforward dance beats here. Opening track "Love We Found" starts with sparse piano chords and plaintive lyrics, echoing together in negative space: "And after all / This love we found / Will you be around?" Soon enough, the beats kick in, first metallic and then tightly electronic. Interlaced, keys, and vocals continue to emerge with an ethereal languor, underscoring the duo's ability to weave clear-cut ballads and cold beats together into dance tracks in a way that feels seamless - and doesn't feel like a remix.

The pace picks up all around on "The Blame", a song whose purpose is largely to build momentum. It does this well, energy spiraling higher and higher until its final beats carry its audience into the centerpiece: "Desire", a collaboration between Bob Moses and Grammy-nominated producer ZHU. It's the album's obvious climax, a colossal encounter with different rhythms on all sides and airy string samples that all echo together with verses and chorus ("I don't want your desire / I just want to be free") to establish a spacious, open soundscape that perfectly encapsulates the album's underlying need for escape. It grows and builds, surface tension mounting, until finally, it bursts into the album's three-track denouement.

"Hold Me Up" feels joyful, hints of house music in the rhythmic and melodic fireworks. The album's shortest track, it is nonetheless one of its most exciting, a gleeful start to an extended release. Keeping energy high but returning to minor scales, "Outlier" ends with a breakdown of beats that levels out into sublime "Ordinary Day". Angelic synths and high notes glide over cosmic guitars. Though this is yet another song dwelling on the dark side of wanting more, it's melodically soothing, and lyrics like "everybody hurts the same" are, in their way, warmly unifying.

Thirty minutes is a satisfying length, and the duo does a good job of mixing up their signature sound with ZHU entering at the right moment. "Hold Me Up" is vital in offering us a break from the non-stop angst, which, while an important part of the Bob Moses aesthetic, gets a little tiring by halfway through the album. Overall, Desire is a successful expansion of Bob Moses' previous standard pop album format into the more grandiose club mix format, one that hints at further creative developments in the group's future.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.