New Look - New Look

A refreshing and beguiling album.

Rating: 7

The 1980s were a decade that featured a proliferation electronic pop music, from the likes of Soft Cell and Yazoo to hugely successful global super acts Pet Shop Boys and Eurythmics. Carrying on the 21st century’s penchant for eighties revivalism, and also fitting in to this grand tradition of electro pop duos, are Canadian group New Look.

New Look comprise Sarah Ruba and her husband, keyboardist and producer Adam Pavao, and they specialise in minimal electro pop and rhythmic beat-driven electronica. The thing that characterises the band is that always at the heart of their music is a pure pop sensibility, and it is this that makes their self-titled debut such a refreshing and beguiling album.

New Look share a similar aesthetic to The xx, in that their music is based on the principals of minimalism and the importance of space. The space created brings the lovely breathy voice of Ruba to the fore, whilst allowing the always interesting and inventive sounds to bubble around compellingly behind her.

The eighties electro influence can be heard explicitly on the likes of achingly cool single ‘Nap On The Bow’, with its slick production and slow burning drum machine. There are echoes of early Depeche Mode and the more experimental side of Spandau Ballet to be heard throughout, but at no point does the record ever veer into mere bland pastiche: there is a great juxtaposition between the sound of now and the influences of the past.

New Look are at their best when they are taking these influences and doing something fresh and exciting with them, and this can be heard with the fantastic brooding electro of ‘Numbers’ and ‘A Light’ - a gloriously laid-back RnB style slow jam full of weird keyboard patterns and all manner of strange sounds allied to a great stuttering rhythm. Really clever stuff.

The album highlight, however, is the stunning self-explanatory romantic love song ‘The Ballad’, which sounds like it could be the perfect soundtrack to a particularly emotional scene in a film. Ruba’s vocals soar as she mournfully pleads, ‘You know I love you so.’

Whilst New Look could be accused of favouring style over substance, there is more than enough on this outstanding debut to suggest that they will be around for a very long time.