Album reviews

28

Bobby's debut albumReview Snapshot: On their self-titled debut album, Bobby have created an absorbing, multi-layered record, one that definitively disproves the oft-quoted cliché that 'less is more'.

Cluas Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

Full review: In some respects, Massachusetts band Bobby have emerged from the wilderness. They were not subject to the the sort of media hype that occasionally pursues up and coming bands, often to their detriment, like a lion stalking a young zebra. In fact relatively little was known about the ensemble, save for the former musical exploits of certain group members. And for a while there wasn't even a photograph of Bobby around, which further shrouded the band and their record in mystery and intrigue. It is befitting then that Bobby's music lands as alien and mystical as the group did. It is lush and layered, complex, bittersweet and, most importantly, emotionally engaging.

With album opener, 'We Saw', the listener is promptly ushered into the surreal soundscapes of Bobby. Said listener will not emerge again until the final track, 'The Shed', has run its course. 'We Saw' builds and recedes like a storm, harnassed by conflicting acoustic guitars and the repeated chanting of the track's title, in effect sounding more like some strange pagan incantation than lyrics to a rock song. 'The Shed' meanwhile, concludes the album in a similarly quasi-religious fashion. It has a church feel to it (without the unrelenting boredom), as a choir of male voices chant along gravely to the fragmented drama of Bobby's music.

'Sore Spores' is one of the more pop-oriented tracks on the album and continually swaps singing duties between male and female until the voices meet towards the track's tender finish. 'Dustbeam' is another terrific song that again bides its time before unleashing its magic.

Throughout the debut album, there is a real sense of there being communal music-making behind this creation. Various tastes, tempos, voices and emotions somehow merge in the mixing pot of the album resulting in something cohesive and compelling, if not immediately accessible. The tracks have been patiently constructed and, while they do not tend to follow the formula conventions of pop or rock songs, there is still an appreciation for moments of honest melody and boy/girl harmonies. Many tracks have the ability to evolve and branch off in unexpected directions, that only become apparent in time and after repeated listens. Few albums this year will be as rewarding of effort as this is.

But what is most impressive about Bobby is the group's recognition of the power of the quiet moments. The album is generous in length (over an hour long) and as such it allows the songs to breathe and develop as naturally as possible without any need for dramatic crescendoes or quickly arranged climaxes.

This is a record with plenty of dead ends and odd directions along the way, down which the listener can enjoy getting lost.

One of the standout albums of the year so far.

Kevin Boyle

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