These are dark days for the album. Sure, the internet has made music more accessible, and in many ways there’s more music being consumed than ever. But iTunes singles, downloading, maybe even media players have reintroduced an age of singles to the music industry. Even self-appointed protectors of musical art, Smashing Pumpkins, have abandoned the album in favor of the remarkably overpriced single. In many ways it makes sense; in this day of singles, for a band called imadethismistake to make a piece of music that is almost wholly album-based with Bow and Quiver.
Musically, imadethismistake have drawn comparisons to everything from folk-punk to Bright Eyes (I don’t make these comparisons, I just hear them). In the past, frontman Kylewilliam Campol has gone from playing solo acoustic to having a full band and even having guest musicians sit in on piano and horns. This is a balance that seems to finally find peace on Bow and Quiver. The band incorporates broader musical themes, allowing songs to stretch out and change pace within themselves. It's a welcome change from the sometimes rambling interludes of their previous full release It’s Okay. Songs such as “Stateside” seamlessly shift tempo and melody, incorporating straightforward rock, group singing (not to be confused with “gang vocals”) and even a piano. However, the band never lets the desire to be musically diverse overpower the songs and even showcase more stripped, straight-ahead rock sounds on songs like “Billboards.”
While Bow and Quiver has well-crafted songs and music, where it shines is as a complete album and theme. The album opens with the unassuming “New York” and you instantly find yourself thrown into the story of a somewhat melancholy narrator without context or relationship. It’s like opening a movie to find the protagonist on the floor of a disheveled hotel room with a knife wound and a gun in his hand with three missing rounds. You have no idea how he got here but you want to know why. imadethismistake slowly unravels the back story over the album, careful to help you understand without giving everything away all at once or over simplifying.
The content covers a large variety of topics from consumerism to depression to suicide and on and on. Each element is carefully examined and added to the background, showing how each can be connected. In this way, topics are mentioned but never recovered in the album, each only being shown how it connects to the picture as a whole. The album closes with “The Gimmerie” (Parts I & II), two pieces that were originally written as one and later separated. The two tracks come together in a culmination of everything the album touches upon, adding reflection and a personal touch of how the now well-documented narrator has taken the events and emotions over the course of the album. As the album closes you are brought back, musically and lyrically, to the beginning of the album, only this time the words seem entirely different and their meaning clearer.
It would be foolish to say Bow and Quiver could save the album, or even that everyone will like it. Some people will criticizes Campol's voice (an odd combination of nasally and throaty). Some may feel the album drags in parts (it does sport four songs over four minutes and one over six). Bow and Quiver isn't a perfect album, but it’s the best music produced by imadethismistake (cohesive or otherwise) to date and it’s a shining example of why the album is an important musical component for those who utilize it.