Personnel: Brian West (keyboards).
Audio Mixer: Dan Weston.
Recording information: PHD Studio, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photographer: Cameron Postforoosh.
Six years after their debut, Canadian pop duo Ash Koley return with Elements, their sophomore LP for the Nettwerk label. The partnership of Winnipeg-based singer Ash Koley and multi-instrumentalist Phil Deschambault enjoyed their first bit of mainstream renown when their buoyant 2010 single, "Don't Let Your Feet Touch the Ground," reached number 50 on the Canadian Hot 100. The breezy, piano-led cabaret pop of their debut, Inventions, led to an even breezier 2012 companion album called Acoustic Inventions. With Elements, they've made a deliberate attempt to to alter their creative formula, heading to Los Angeles for a series of co-writing sessions and some added production/songwriting efforts from Justin Gray (Ryan Cabrera, Mariah Carey) and Brian West (Rachel Platten, Maroon 5). While not a total makeover, the 11 tracks on Elements represent a distinct shift toward more contemporary synth pop with a surprising dash of hip-hop thrown in. Beat-driven lead single "Dangerous Words" has hooks aplenty, as does the bouncy "Don't Give Up on Me," whose rousing choruses are interjected with semi-rapped call-and-response parts. They find their stride on the more straightforward synth pop tracks like "Every Time I Think of You" and the lovely "Dive In," which are two of Elements' brightest spots. "Pins & Needles" is another standout cut showcasing Ash Koley's knack for strong, uplifting choruses and bright melodies. ~ Timothy Monger