Review: Lookbook – Wild at Heart (2010)
Consider Lookbook the first band ever to capture my attention solely due to the videography in their music video. “Over and Over” is high quality slow-motion, so slow it draws your attention heavily to Maggie Morrison’s vocals despite the riveting guitar and pulsating kick drum from Grant Cutler beckoning, tugging, and pulling at your arm. It tugs so much in one direction while Maggie’s neutral look is as hard to read as a poker face. And just as you make a decision of which direction to submit to, enough for your opinion to be expressed through heartbeats, the two unveil their joint plan to steal you away into their own mesmerizing world of electronic synthpop as Grant bares his teeth and Maggie confidently smiles through her siren-like beckoning.
That same voice earned Best Female Vocalist of 2010 honors through City Pages, the premiere entertainment weekly in the Twin Cities. Yet it took the combination of those accolades and seeing Lookbook live during Pizza Luce’s Block Party to pull these hesitant ears to give the rest of Wild at Heart. Immediately after that song of initiation, “Yesterday’s Company” similarly lures the listener in through simplistic synths and Maggie’s versatile vocals. However, instead of the intensity she and Grant deliver unassuming bright melodies reflective of her freely wild singing style. Her singing is abrasive at first, but your ears soon learn to love and appreciate the natural talent as she gets into the 1980’s John Hughes-evoking synthpop of “Way Beyond” and “The Only Ones.”
I still have yet to suppress completely scarred memories of the highlighted neon colors of the ’80s, which is why “True to Form” and “Free Your Man” give welcome breathers to, say, the leg-warmers music I would have expected otherwise. The latter, while it does provoke images of smoke rising up from manhole covers in a city blanketed by a navy bluish night sky, captures the sleek sophisticated glee of that time in film history. The penultimate “Wild at Heart” and finale “Surprise” bring Wild at Heart away from being sonically standardized (akin more to I Fear You, My Darkness). The soft, rolling drumbeat accompanied by Maggie’s country-like vocals run steadily, even with the sweet, held back bridge into an empowering chorus. It’s the breath that “Over and Over” stole away to lend back at the end. “Surprise” pulls back towards the aforementioned 2008 EP with its more ambient production and echoing vocals.
Luckily we managed to break away from the lake and make it to Pizza Luce in time to see Lookbook on stage. Originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the Twin Cities transplants are unexpectedly, rapidly rising; Ms. Morrison even appeared on Gayngs and Paper Tiger‘s most recent releases. Although far from mythology, Lookbook is shaping up to be Minneapolis/St. Paul’s undeniably enrapturing electro-duo.