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New Look - Nap On The Bow

Recorded over the past three years, across the creative trinity of Berlin, Brooklyn and the sleepy hollow town of Hamilton, near Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, New Look’s self-titled debut album is a feverishly anticipated affair. The Canadian future pop duo and real life couple, Sarah Ruba and Adam Pavao have an undeniable creative synergy, combining the stunning, synth-playing chanteuse and former model, 25-year-old Ruba (previously shot by the likes of cult fashion provocateur Bruce Weber) and multi-instrumentalist, 31-year-old producer Pavao. 

There is a confidence and wit to their songwriting, coupled with cosmic tweaks and soft synths underpinning their future pop aesthetic. It’s controlled yet wistful pop perfectionism. “We try not to keep anything superfluous in our songs. We’re always conscious of the negative space in our music and that’s a constant theme,” explains Pavao, their trademark sparse 80s snap dynamically lifting Ruba’s synth driven melodies.

New Look’s accomplished debut chronicles almost five years of music from Ruba and Pavao. Theirs is a truly immersive full album experience, led by the inspired combination of siren-esque vocals and abstract storytelling, a soft focus and quietly stylish, yet confidently hyper-coloured aura that envelopes the band, the album and their listeners.

Opening with “Nap on the Bow”, New Look slowly caress an introductory world of warm 80s analogue pads and distanced echoes, the track building up around Ruba’s ethereal dreams, bubbling basslines breaking through tropical drums and effervescent synths. Striding along with “Numbers” and “A Light”, New Look showcase their talent for creating a multi-synth-orchestra vibe, two self-referential tracks that channel the duo’s creative energy via last year’s move from New York to Berlin and Berlin to Toronto, respectively. The band’s obsession with analogue equipment rises through the MIDI gaps, with the gear’s white noise and tape hiss being musically manipulated around gorgeous, crystal clear vocals. 

New Look’s anthemic single “The Ballad” is the record’s futuristic pop centrepiece, juxtaposed by the stripped-back, harder hitting electro of “Teen Need” where Ruba’s vocals are twisted with a late night, 5am throwback party vibe, coincidentally written earlier this year with the band’s triumphant return to New York City. With a pitched down Sarah Ruba contributing androgynous guest vocals on “You & I”, the album’s morning-after-the-night-before turnaround, the latter half of the album returns to New Look’s soaring, amorous electronic pop roots. 

“Music was the catalyst of our relationship,” explains Pavao, reminiscing about the band and the record’s romantic undertones. “It made us realise the connection we had. Writing our first song together was life changing, literally, because it made us realise not only the artistic potential we had individually, but more so as a couple, and just the basic human connection we had.”

“So Real” and “Everything” first appeared on the acclaimed, 2008 self-released EP “How’s My Hair?”, both tracks sounding as fresh and vital today (“Everything” was actually the first track the couple had ever written back in New York) - pitch perfect, experimental pop with harmonious, unexpected breakdowns and a freestyle attitude and creative naivety that showcases Sarah Ruba and Adam Pavao’s ambitious, inimitable and fully-realised, future pop manifesto.

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