“The Look of Love” is impeccably executed by ABC, a band from the New Romantic wing of the UK New Wave. There’s no more perfect crystallization of 1980s production techniques — from the keyboard bass slaps to the sampled guitar slides to the sweeping strings. Every measure is stuffed with sonic accoutrements; the musical equivalent of an overly-coiffed hairdo. Seductive whispers, huge tom fills, faux-gospel background vocals and much, much more are present in this aural artifact. The song proudly trumpets ’80s convention in a stunning musical grotesque that simply could not have been possible in any other era.
You know how people who hate Nickelback are nonetheless forced to reconcile their distaste with the fact that, were it not for Nirvana, the band could not exist? Well, the same could be said for David Bowie and ABC. I’m a died-in-the-wool Bowie fan, and it both annoys and enthralls me that every aspect of this song — from Martin Fry‘s flamboyant baritone to the relentless electro pulse — is ripped from the Thin White Duke’s hymnal (with a sprinkling of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music). But the song is more than a sum of its parts: ABC’s exuberance comes through loud and clear in every call-and-response chorus and gated snare thwack.
As you were.