Ashby

Looks Like You've Already Won

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In the nearly five years since Ashby's auspicious debut, Power Ballads, the duo of Eveyln Pope and William Cowie didn't change much, which is a good thing for anyone who fell under the spell of their beguiling indie pop sound. On Looks Like You've Already Won, their feather-light blend of gentle melodies, rich arrangements, and electronic underpinnings remains intact, only this time out there is less in the way of electronics and more horns, flutes, and general Bacharach-ness. More importantly, the songs are just as good and Pope's vocals sound more assured and slinky as she croons her way through the ballads like a '60s icon who can actually carry a tune. What really makes the album an improvement over the debut are the subtle surprises like the welcome hints of bossa nova throughout, the horns and woodwinds that create an exciting counterpoint to Pope's languid voice, the gentle disco beat that percolates through "He Likes the Sound," and the '70s glitter soul meets soft rock sound of "Already Won." The duo and its arrangers work very hard to keep things interesting and they succeed. Looks Like You've Already Won is a lush and lovely album whose breezily romantic feel makes it a perfect choice for warm summer nights and cozy winter evenings.

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