BOB MOSES

 

On their full-length debut Days Gone By, Vancouver-bred duo Bob Moses built off the moody and nuanced sound they’d first honed in the dance-music underground, instilling their emotionally layered electronic pop with a raw vitality and lyrical depth. The 2015 album featured breakout single “Tearing Me Up,” a top 15 hit on US Alternative radio that landed two Grammy Award nominations (with a RAC-produced remix winning Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical). After spending much of the past three years touring the world, Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance push their sound even further on their sophomore effort Battle Lines—a dynamic yet delicately textured album that finds Bob Moses fully embracing their most inventive instincts while imbuing their lyrics with a deeper meaning and message.


 


“In a couple of years we went from playing warehouses at 4 a.m. to playing raves to playing rock venues with a drummer,” says Vallance. In that rapid evolution, as they expanded their focus beyond creating music solely for the club, Bob Moses also began expanding their sonic palette and adopting a more outward-looking perspective. To that end, Battle Lines confronts themes of conflict and disconnection, on an intimate but utterly universal level. “This record is about the battles and struggles we all live through,” Bob Moses state. “Battles within ourselves, battles with and within our society, battles between each other, with our loved ones, battles between ideologies.”


 


Formed in New York and based in L.A., Bob Moses recorded Battle Lines in a studio-equipped home in Laurel Canyon, but shaped much of the album while out on the road. “The live show’s been kind of a testing ground for us”, says Howie. “It’s added a lot to the process to have that connection to the real world.” Along with incorporating live instrumentation to a larger extent than ever before—Bob Moses had their first experience working with an outside producer: Lars Stalfors (Foster the People, St. Vincent, Cold War Kids), who encouraged the duo to record songs live off the studio floor.


 


Battle Lines opens with lead single “Heaven Only Knows”: a brightly melodic but darkly charged meditation on the danger in blind faith. The track also exemplifies Bob Moses’s collage-like method of songmaking. Throughout Battle Lines, Bob Moses stay true to their unique bursts of inspiration, joining unfettered eclecticism with lyrics that uncover subtle yet eye-opening truths. Sparked by a somber piano line Vallance discovered over Christmas, the album’s quietly urgent title track unfolds as a thoughtful exploration of internal and external unrest. Meanwhile, the joyfully defiant single “Back Down” began with a kinetic guitar riff stumbled upon during sound check, then evolved into what Howie describes as a “confused protest song., a song that comes from feeling a sense of loss about where we are as a society.”


 


The track that best embodies the euphoric melancholy of Battle Lines, “Nothing But You” emerged from the most challenging moment in the album-making process. After Vallance suffered some major family troubles, “Nothing But You” attained an unforeseen depth, illuminating the pain of “getting distracted and enticed by something from the outside, and realizing later that what you really want is what you had all along,” according to Vallance.


 


As their most elaborately realized work to date, Battle Lines strikes a graceful balance between its heavy grooves, hypnotic melodies, and lucid yet penetrating lyrics. The result is an album that often feels escapist but endlessly invites self-examination, revealing the duo’s commitment to creating music with a powerful impact for both audience and artist. “In a way this album is dealing with a lot of the same inner confusions we faced on the first record, but now we’re looking more closely at how they’re reflected in the outer world,” Howie says. “It’s given us a new understanding of ourselves, and hopefully it’ll bring some sense of connection to the people listening as well.”