Album Watch: The Ballad of New Look

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Look are the clean freaks of music. This I am convinced. It was first displayed to me on the hypnotizing, "Janet" (not included on here), and this concept is continued throughout their self-titled debut. Everything on their debut is taunt, suave, and sterile---nary a speck of dirt is to be found on it, as if the husband and wife team from Canada took a rag and cleaning solvent to it and scrubbed out all smudges. No way is this to their detriment. In fact, it's what makes their self-titled debut such an briskly intriguing listen.

The idea of being a minimalist has sort of been 2011's quiet mantra for the music. Maybe it's some Recession-era idea: the more isolated and simple, the much more composed and nurturing it all feels. I don't know. I'm just over-analyzing. What I do know is that New Look and their music is less brutal than their contemporaries (see James Blake and The Weeknd) to where they won't isolate listeners. New Look, as a whole, brings out the early cracklings of 80's Freestyle (Debbie Deb) with a lean into electronic smarts (Kraftwerk, Laid Back's "White Horse"). Yet added to this mix is an R&B tone softens the stark blows of the mechanical synthesizers. With tracks like the perky "Teen Need", "Everything" and the House-y, "Numbers", you don't feel exclusion from the groove---you're in it.

Vocalist, Sara Ruba is the anchor in all of this as she ping-pongs her soprano voice across the electronic landscapes that Adam Pavao has swathed over the record. Beautiful pieces like "The Ballad" and my favorite, "Nap On The Bow" don't rely on much to get the point across, but do offer lingering effects. This approach is a reminder of Sade in a way. As Sade Adu's voice isn't splashy in a 'diva' sense, but it is highly effective and gave a unique twist to the sophisticated jazz-pop the group is known for. Ruba does that same effect here as she adds intriguing depth to what is on New Look. Once you finish this concise set, it's like you woke up from a technical and pleasant dream, and it's one that you want to recount again, and again.

Nap On The Bow


The Ballad

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