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Self-Released (2012)
review by / LOGAN BRENDT

The self-titled debut by New Look brings sexy electronic leisure pop with touches of R&B and dance. Band members and married couple Sarah Ruba and Adam Pavao work perfectly together. Ruba who is also a model, has a voice that alternates between sultry and smooth to sweet soulful innocence. For the most part, Ruba’s vocals are similar to those of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, with phrasing reminiscent of Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins.
“Nap On The Bow” is a strong opener and is indicative of the rest of the album that has trip-hop and drum and bass beats interweaving in perfect balance with Ruba’s vocals. On the song “Numbers”, Ruba sings breathily, “Telephone is not a toy, it has power to destroy”, then follows with an enchanting exhale of the words “Break my heart”. New Look’s songs are full of impassioned feelings about love and heartbreak.
A song like “Teen Need” is an example of Ruba’s innocently sweet vocals being showcased, sounding a bit like Janet Jackson at first. The song would also blend well with Ciara’s “1, 2 Step” in a DJ set. It’s a testament to the fact that they draw from R&B and dance. New Look’s strong point is that they have unique instrumental compositions that are minimalistic while still keeping an incredible groove.
While fans of the xx will embrace New Look’s masterful use of minimalistic instrumental backing, living well beyond the hype, New Look’s debut also harks back to Everything But the Girl’s Walking Wounded album. New Look’s almost metaphysical use of erotic sound is to be recognized and praised.

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