Ashby - Looks Like You
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Ashby
Looks Like You've Already Won

Evelyn Pope and Bill Cowie are a duo from Boston who create very agreeable orchestral pop music that with other than a few exceptions sounds like it could have been created at nearly any point during the past 30 years. As Ashby, the two released the acclaimed debut Power Ballads clear back in 2001, and Looks Like You've Already Won is their slightly less electronic yet more fleshed-out follow-up, full of lush instrumentation and brimming with a sort of soft-edged production quality that makes everything go down like a spoonful of sugar.

"Anyone Anywhere" opens the disc and the track finds the vocals of Pope floating over multiple layers of guitar and synths, with nice little horn melodies that pop through and punctuate things. "Getting Started" is even better, as strummy guitars float over a solid rhythm section while warm vibes, trumpet, and flute melodies all add wispy tendrils that offset the omnipresent breathy vocals of Pope.

Imagine music (and vocals) that arrive somewhere between Saint Etiene and Moon Safari by Air. As mentioned before, the production is about as sparkling and glossy as it comes, which will probably make it a bit too sweet for some listeners, but it's hard to deny that the group has some subtle hooks that work their magic oftentimes without you noticing. The shimmering disco-funk of "He Likes The Sound" is a perfect example, moving along with a toe-tappinng bassline and some great electric piano and wah wah guitar. At ten tracks and just under forty minutes, it's a nice little album that doesn't overstay its welcome and moves with a steady and sure soft orchestral euro-pop sound that goes down easy.

rating: 6.7510
Aaron Coleman 2006-04-06 20:07:02