Strictly speaking, of course, Elements, the new release from Dutch production duo Vicetone and the follow-up to 2016's Aurora, is an EP, not an album. But honestly, in this era of streams and downloads, it feels pedantic to disqualify a release for that reason. More importantly, the four tracks featured on this EP are absolute bangers.
The two men involved — Ruben den Boer and Victor Pool — have, they say, added more sonic depth to the sound since the release of Aurora, and that is evident from the opening "Something Strange," which features the vocal talents of American Idol alum Haley Reinhart and also happens to be the highlight of the EP. Detailing the difficulties often faced in relationships, its raw lyrics contrast beautifully with the polished production.
The song is an excellent example of contemporary EDM aimed at the mainstream, with a super-melodic but low-key intro, building to an epic drop and a dance-heavy chorus. Reinhart's in fine form, apparently putting her brush with the law, when she was arrested for assaulting a bouncer following a bar brawl, behind her.
Elsewhere, "Fences" sees den Boer and Pool join forces with Nashville singer-songwriter Matt Wertz, and the song is understandably a blend of both acts' styles, starting off with a little acoustic twang and kicking into a club-friendly chorus.
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“‘Fences’ is about someone trying to help his girlfriend out of a depression — it’s meant to have a motivational feeling to it," Pool said in the press release accompanying this release.
He also says, "This is the first thing we’ve done where we’re playing guitar, and it lets us get so many sounds we’d never be able to get through sampling.”
That's key to the awesome sound on this EP — the two men haven't allowed themselves to be constrained by equipment or genres (or, indeed, subgenres). They've done what they want to, evolved naturally, and the record benefits.