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The Look

Tunes & Stories

It’s been a while..2005 maybe was their last album ‘ Pop Yowlin’ ..?  That mined a sub-Tamla beat group sound exemplified by lead cut ‘ I Won’t Commit Myself ‘ which was insanely catchy. Duffy appeared a tad later doing something very similar, strangely enough. ‘United’ had a tinge of Jeff Lynne and the crisp ‘Runaround’ could have been a Costello outtake, Classic pop rock territory and with an earlier hit ‘I Am The Beat’ tacked on to the tracking order.

So here we are in 2013 and The Look return with this set, pop sensibilities intact but a bit more themselves I would contend.  Much of this album sounds like a bunch of soon-to-be hit singles given the favour of airplay…and with UK radio in a generally disengaged state one has to wish them luck. Especially as a lot of the songs on ‘Tunes & Stories’ are  better constructed and delivered than most of what radio is currently playing. Lead item ‘Let It Go’ really does sounds though it’s been around for ever, a very addictive handclapping Brian Wilson / ELO hybrid.  A rich and confident intro brings the tuneful ascending cadence of ‘Pictures of Innocence’ with a touch of ‘SunFlower’ or ‘Holland’ in its breezy pattering based around lead singer Jonny Whetstone’s knowing delivery. The production has that edge-of overkill that may remind you of ‘Build Me Up ButterCup’ but the tune shines through.

‘Real Live Heaven’ is a tad stomp-heavy. If one has to be critical, The Look do lean a little too often on the Noddy Holder style stomp. This collection does feature young guitar man Jake Jacob and he displays a surefooted nothing-too-fancy style which suits these selections to a tee  ; also some neat and emphatic vocal contributions from Amelia Whetstone and Rachel Kate Bryceland. The ghosts of ELO again haunt ‘Made It All; but the chorus is pure Tony Hatch. Jonny sings this with a light punch and a keen sense of that someone rummaging in a cutlery drawer hallway through ?  Another classic pop vibe streams though ‘Grip Of the Night’

That ‘ Hi Ho Silver Lining’ stomp beat is back on ‘Goodbye New World’ but again a catchy melody and pop-orchestral arrangement, their forte.  Notably effective bass figures in this number. ‘Dear Unattainable’ aims for a moodier ambience, closer to Supertramp with is stark staccato piano start, a throbbing beat kicking in about a minute in. Sounds like a potential live show gem if they up the guitar presence ; ‘Ride On’ ups the tempo and the tension is sustained, more subtle guitar lines and because it’s different from the rest of the material here it’s my favoured track here. ‘Something Is Happening Here’ wouldn’t sound out of place on Brian Matthews’s Saturday morning radio 2 Sixties beat group pop treasures show…is that a  good or bad thing ?

Resolutely unfashionable and using driving electric pop tempo’s of yesterday, The Look always sound tuneful and eager.

Suggested singles ( I was asked ) : hmm…‘Pictures of Innocence’, ‘Made It All’ and thriller theme- soaked record closer ‘I Spy’. It’s on this latter cut that the ensemble sounds most spirited. So easy on the stomps, chaps and a few more pacey songs and instrumental solo’s maybe next release but in the meantime this is a fine box of pop tunesmithery, all the better for eschewing trendy production, rappers, synth slodge et al

Pete Sargeant

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