Elley Duhé's debut EP, aptly titled DRAGON MENTALITY, engulfs listeners in its fierce fury of rigid sonic prisms and a medley of ancient Middle Eastern instrumentation. EDM fans may recognize the Alabama-native singer from her recent collaborations with electronic dance producers Zedd ("Happy Now"), and Gryffin ("Tie Me Down"), which have both already racked up several million streams. The singer's ability to intricately mesh grimy pop beats with rusty vocals bring to mind the likes of Sia and Jessie Reyez.
Dragon Mentality is a raw and mesmerizing compilation of futuristic revelations and nostalgic, cryptic images projected onto pyramid walls. It begins with Elley welcoming us into the perfectly imperfect chamber of her thoughts on "LOST MY MIND", a catchy and upbeat electropop melody with an introspective narrative. Revealing the unpredictable tides that sometimes flood her mind, she asks those close to her to be patient as she swims through life's turbulent currents. While the project starts off on a bright note, don't expect a linear follow-up. Elley takes a trip to the sandy depths of an ancient colosseum for a darker toned, but equally captivating, ode to rebellion against authority. Sounding like a score straight out of a gladiator scene, "FEVER"'s gritty composition is sprinkled with sinister piano chords, somber string arrangements, and the rattling of tambourines.
Before you get settled in to watch the battle, Elley switches it up again on "WAY DOWN LOW" to bring listeners back to a serene state with an uplifting message of reassurance to keep pushing through despite life's struggles. "WAY DOWN LOW" is like an uncovered cave, its walls once draped in black-inked hieroglyphs now decorated with a beautiful canvas of watercolour paintings.
Elley brings listeners back to the colosseum again for Round 2 of the battle. Her velvety smooth yet raspy vocals growl over a grungy pop beat on "COUNTERFEIT". Elley enters savage mode to face off against a traitor who proved themselves to be an untrustworthy acquaintance. The gloomy mood gets even darker on the next track, "$$$$", a tantalizing, toxic romance that Elley is bound in with her own ghost. Enthralling violin arrangements make the track even more of a cliff-hanger. While heavy bass adds weight to the song's deep dimensions, gunshots amplify its powerful suspense. In the first verse, Elley rebukes her ghost vehemently, but it comes back to admonish her in the second verse with a threat of forcing her to pay gravely for her betrayal.
On the last track, "STARZ", Elley wakes up in uncharted territory. The battle has been fought, but the victory isn't quite as glorious as she thought it would be. "STARZ" is an enigmatic ballad of searching for Nirvana but finding nothing except empty space. As an immortal being trapped in a post-apocalyptic abyss, Elley realizes that the truth she once fought to find has become even more ambiguous than it was on earth. Elley's tenacious vocals echo into a bottomless black sky, but no sound can be heard from civilization. Stars dimly lit the misty heavens as sobbing strings tell of the mistake too many starry-eyed rebels make: jumping into a battle they weren't truly ready for. "STARZ" is an intensely soulful jaunt that sends chills as hazy memories become uncovered by Elley's wails. Was Elley the predator or prey in DRAGON MENTALITY? We may just never know until the next project.
Immerse yourself in Elley's arcane new EP, DRAGON MENTALITY, below.