The beginning of Bogues' second EP, Life, Slowly, offers a sense of comfortable familiarity. A guitar rings, as if far off in the distance, encouraging us to come in close and pay attention. Much like the intro to "Sometimes," which appeared on debut EP Mulligan, the first track on Life, Slowly, "Orchard to Bartnick," rings the familiar call: stop what you're doing, this is going to be good.
Bogues, a one-man band captained by AJ Gruenewald, could be considered Julien Baker's male counterpart. Life, Slowly acts as a continuation of Mulligan: it's still just Gruenewald, a guitar, an amp, strong vocals and lyrics that have a way of exposing our deepest fears surrounding change and instability. Much like Baker, we feel like we've been invited into a private diary reading.
Two songs off the EP, "Orchard to Bartnick" and "Transcendentalism," are easily the strongest. Both are rich with self-reflective lyrics surrounding change, love and self-deprication. Within the first few seconds of "Transcendentalism," a track so rich with poetry that it could easily be a minute longer, Gruenewald sings: "I think I depend on you too often / or at least you as a concept" — a line that kicks you right in the stomach.
On Mulligan, we saw themes of instability, especially on tracks like "Renting and Trashing a U-Haul Van." These themes extend into Life, Slowly, which perhaps works towards establishing Bogues' brand of revisiting themes and planting them like Easter eggs. In "Unpacking Boxes," he discusses a troubled living situation, presumedly with a love interest, and the need to move back to his childhood home. In the following and final track, "All Moved In," we see a presumed outcome to "Unpacking Boxes" when he toasts to "temporary seeming permanent." This song, where he "looks back on everything," is the perfect closing to a chapter full or remorse and regret.
While Life, Slowly is undoubtedly an extension of Mulligan, it also shows musical growth. The tracks feel fuller, which can be a challenge for a one-man band, but this proves an increase in production quality. All that's left, now, is the pressure for Bogues to release a full-length album; he's already proven his capabilities of putting out a satisfying EP. (Independent)