Atmospheric and unrestrained, Bows’ sophomore album Cassidy incorporates a trip-hop vibe with jazz and drum and bass influences. Not wanting to be limited to any one style, however, Bows subtly manages to cover a broad range while maintaining a wholeness that makes Cassidy quite nearly perfect.
Combining airy male and female vocals with mellow beats and a sense of understated glamour, the beauty of Bows tends to sneak up on its listeners. While the laid-back feel and pleasantly sparse arrangements may not make Cassidy the most immediately accessible of albums, half the joy of Bows is finding what has been hidden inside these tracks. Bows is unafraid to combine gentle orchestration with drum loops into intricately constructed compositions, building sonic settings for the exploration of emotions.
From the diaphanous “Hey Vegas” to the childlike “B Boy Blunt”, Bows is unafraid to explore a wide range of sounds while still sustaining a completeness of mood. The serene tone sometimes deviates into sorrow and into ecstasy, but the concept behind Cassidy seems to be to balance the two. Whereas this dreamy mood may tarnish a lesser album, Bows explores it for all of its worth. Although it never rises or falls too far away from evenness, Bows has still created a dynamic and enthralling album.
Although it may initially have a bit of a faceless, electronic feel, Cassidy goes out of its way to make a connection with listeners. Removing the mundane everyday world and replacing it with one of heightened sensitivity, Bows seeks out the beauty that is all around. With tracks like the soaring “Sun Electric” and the spare “Cuban Welterweight Rumbles Hidden Hitmen”, these songs are amazingly affecting in an intuitive way.
The lyrics celebrate the poignancy of little moments in life. On the sleepy “Ali 4 Onassis”, ephemeral vocals affirm “my whole life was meant for this moment, cruising out of Harlem with you.” The wistful “Wonderland” whispers “If I could keep you here from everyone, I would” against a backdrop of delicate beats. The lyrics never become the driving force of the music, and while they possess their own beauty, they mostly serve as a showcase for the vocalists. Even the charmingly breathless “DJ” which has slightly overdone lines like “You’re everything to me. You’re open skies and butterflies”, still expresses an incredible joy as the vocalist descends into laughter.
While none of these tracks could really be considered “heavy”, a few rely a drum and bass setting, such as the jazzy “Man Fat”, and provide a nice counterpoint to the more elusive songs on Cassidy. The arrangement of songs keeps the album intriguing on repeat listens, each revealing new things. Bows knew what it was doing when it structured the song order. While the flow doesn’t feel force, an admirable effort went into it, and it saves the album from falling apart towards the end.
Cassidy is an unexpected discovery, and proves Bows to be a potent group. With the band’s instinctive sense for arrangement of sounds, Cassidy is an album of grace and transcendence. It deserves to become the personal secret of music lovers everywhere.