The New Looks for Spring – New Looks for Spring

The New Looks for Spring
New Looks for Spring

The New Looks for Spring are another side project by an industrious group of young musicians living in Vienna. Currently known more for its metal and hardcore, Vienna is host to few indie-pop groups. Thus, it is not surprising that many of those that have toured outside of Austria consisted of members from The New Looks for Spring. Originally starting as more of a metal act (the Reframe Concept), three of the members of that group went on to form The Atlantic Monthly, which is probably the most well known incarnation of this small collective. The New Looks for Spring seem to be an attempt by some members of The Atlantic Monthly to “polish” their sound. They have abandoned the “emo” screams for the most part, opting instead for more straight ahead vocals. The production sounds like it was done on a 16-track instead of on 4-, and it reminds me a little of Husker Du’s New Day Rising because of the separation of all the instruments in the mix – a keyboard/guitar unison supplanting and sort of miming that album’s defining overdriven fuzz guitar. The image presented by the band is one of fashion as well; their sound an aural version of the airbrushed intentional irreality of magazine models. They have at least made an attempt to pair down (their songs are now only about 3 and 1/2 minutes long as opposed to the 6-minute indie dirges penned by The Atlantic Monthly).

On the one hand, “New Looks for Spring” appears like it is just an attempt to garner as much commercial attention as possible. While the recording clearly was not done in some million-dollar an hour studio co-produced by Rick Rubin and Butch Vig, it has a similar feel. On the other hand, their songwriting is probably a little too varied and complicated to accomplish such a goal. The synth-intro gives way to vocal harmonies, and eventually we reach the chorus that is repeated a number of times. The stereo separation of all the instruments is most evident on a bridge that leads into the outro. The ending feels a little abrupt for them, as it just cuts out. You get the feeling that they wanted to go back to the original chorus at least one more time. Their US influences are all over this song, some popping up in surprising places – such as what sounds like a musical quote from a Dinosaur Jr. song in the final section. It would be interesting to hear how all this translates in a live setting. Then again, what is refreshing in the thrash/hardcore saturated clubs of Vienna is old-hat in the indie festivals in London or San Francisco.

I am happy to see bands “taking it seriously,” but this quintet is a little too polished for my ears – concentrating more on style and method over real substance. That said, they do have a some great hooks and harmonies, and their songs are put together very well. Could any one of the bands from this group stay together for a number of years, it is likely that their music will mature into something quite original.