By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Local music tends to roll one of two directions: It either shoots for the moon and adopts a universal, accessible sound (to varying degrees of artistic success), or it turns inward to play only for the local community (to varying degrees of artistic merit).
Denton's Novaak takes the former route on their debut album I Am, You Are, opting for a big, expansive, pop-oriented sound that's inherently made for the masses and not the club down the street. The result is a surprisingly mature and accomplished record from this young duo.
Through songs like the contemplative opener, "You Pressed The Crash Button" to the keyboard heavy "Mr. Memory" to the Beach House-y "With A Stretch," vocalist Jessi James and musical mastermind Blake Panter create a slick, shimmering sonic landscape—one much bigger than the two of them—while hinting at similarly big influences like The Bends-era Radiohead, Blondie and Phoenix.
Another strength of I Am, You Are is how universal it is. Familiar-sounding touch points aside, the songs have something for everyone. There are ballads like the ethereal "Take A Picture," straight-up pop such as "Whatevertown" and tracks like "1 hr" and "Ruby Afternoon," which seem to just beg to be remixed for the dance floor. Anchored always by James' sultry voice and Panter's impressive production, I Am, You Are is an instantly infectious listen that boldly introduces this new dynamic duo.