Duo reinvents the ‘80s

The letter B reigns on Inventions, the new album from Winnipeg duo Ash Koley (vocalist/writer Ashley Koley and instrumentalist/background singer Phil Deschambault).

Phil Deschambault and Ashley Koley make up Winnipeg duo Ash Koley

Phil Deschambault and Ashley Koley make up Winnipeg duo Ash Koley

The letter B reigns on Inventions, the new album from Winnipeg duo Ash Koley (vocalist/writer Ashley Koley and instrumentalist/background singer Phil Deschambault).

It’s boppy, beaty, and bouncy, but with a singular mature voice at the helm. It’s an art-pop vocal stunner.

Things get down to business quickly, and the fanfare begins. Brighter At Night is an ‘80s-influenced bop track with an inspired chorus hook, and Koley’s voice drives the song with a clear directive. This is one of the more adventurous pop songs heard in a while.

It’s sung by a woman who sounds older than 16, who can naturally sing without Melodyne. (Oh, how far we’ve fallen.)

The 3 Bs sound legit when used in the creative manner utilized here –– producer Tom Lord-Alge keeps the sounds sharp.  

Koley’s songs are based on bouncy keyboards and crisp beats, but her voice is clearly the star of this show. The background vocals with Deschambault are used as light textures that sit in place in an interesting mix.

Inventions is smart and exuberant pop music that serves as a perfect vehicle for Koley’s attention-grabbing voice.

Mary the Inventor backs that trend with an ambitious focus that flirts heavily with an art-rock story line, as does Go. They’re heavy on mid-tempo delivery and they shine vocally.

There are moments when the album seems to fall close to one-dimensional convention, due to a bright sound, but Inventions is not of the raw, gritty school of recording.  It’s a lyrical record and has an unmistakable uplift from that source.