Deep house is always a somewhat difficult genre to analyze. With its steady beats and minimalist instrumentation, it’s meant to set an atmosphere rather than move and inspire. Armed with a laptop and sound equipment, making mediocre deep house isn’t terribly difficult, and these days it seems like everyone is doing it. Thus, making truly creative and complex deep house that stands out for its artistic value is certainly a challenge. On Days Gone By, Brooklyn duo Bob Moses shows off depth and emotion with an innovative blend of electro-pop and deep house.
The electro-house group is comprised of Jimmy Valance and Tom Howie. Valance and Howie first met in high school in Vancouver, and after pursuing separate music careers in Brooklyn they formed Bob Moses in 2012, naming their band after New York City’s infamous urban planner. After producing several EPs, their first full-length album was released earlier this year. Their previous sound has been rhythmic deep house with subtlety beautiful vocals and on Days Gone By, Bob Moses stays true to their roots.
Days Gone By gets off to a good start with “Like it or Not,” which begins with swelling synths, sharp percussive beats and ominous piano chords. The reflective swells of the production put the listener into an almost infinite dome of sound. Electronic effects mimic the sound of water and paint a lush, dreamy rainforest as this song’s musical universe.
With pulsating beats and wandering synth rhythms, “Keeping Me Alive” is another standout track. While much of the album works with long and smooth house tracks, the duo veers into the pop realm in this song. Though much of Days Gone By is permeated with themes of loneliness and loss, “Keeping Me Alive” is an oasis of passion and love.
Throughout the album Bob Moses explores themes of loss and being lost, of possibility and of missed chances. “Before I Fall” changes things up by opening with classic guitar riffs and Howie’s layered, almost choral vocals bringing raw emotion and pain. The poetic lyrics encapsulate a sense of vulnerability and loneliness, which resonates through the rest of the album.
Yet for parts of Days Gone By listeners are given music with little substance. “Touch and Go” is a relatively boring track with 7.5 minutes of simplistic beats and inane, repetitive lyrics. Bob Moses has proven that deep house doesn’t need to be boring, but “Touch and Go” loses creative energy and innovation and settles for mediocre house music.
On Days Gone By Bob Moses shows that deep house can have all the beauty and intelligence of any other genre of music, while still staying true to its minimalist style.