A buoyant and angular multicolored tapestry, Partner Look’s debut album ‘By the Book’ is a warm, fun, and quirky “off-kilter pop” record forged in friendship and made with love.
Stream: “Partner Look” – Partner Look
It’s about friendship. Being encouraging to all members and fun. Overcoming stage-fright.
A DIY band built on one of the strongest bonds there is, Melbourne’s Partner Look come with few rules and fewer expectations. Their music flows naturally from a creative stream where impulse and emotion collide, inviting listeners to dwell in their own thoughts while escaping into the embrace of a sweet song or cool groove.
Don’t think too hard about it: Let the music be your guide, and try to enjoy the ride. A buoyant and angular multicolored tapestry, Partner Look’s debut album By the Book is a warm, fun, and quirky “off-kilter pop” record ready to get you through the good times and the bad ones.
Is it matching? Well not always
Complementing? I would say
Partners, sisters, and friends
Not that order
In a stretch, or a bend
It can ease, keep you sane,
at least tease out the pain
Through the songs
Through the music
We don’t have to be strong
Partner Look, Buy the Book
Get the Look
Partner Look, By the Book
Get The Look
– “Partner Look,” Partner Look
Made by close friends making music out of love and pure passion, By the Book has a kind of effortless radiance to it.
Released February 4, 2022 via Chicago-based indie label Trouble in Mind Records, Partner Look’s debut album is an expansive twelve-track set of bright, emotive, and poppy indie rock tunes: An impressively cohesive, melodic, beat-driven introduction to the four-piece of German sisters Ambrin (Cool Sounds) and Anila Hasnain (Studio Magic), as well as their partners Dainis Lacey (Cool Sounds) and Lachlan Denton (The Ocean Party). The band get their name from the German expression “partnerlook,” a compliment of sorts referring to two people wearing similar or matching outfits.
“We first very loosely formed as a band when we all lived together in a house in Fairfield, a suburb in Melbourne,” Anila Hasnain tells Atwood Magazine. “Our family-friend Jana got married in Germany and with Ambrin and I both not able to make the trip, we thought of recording a wedding song with an accompanying video as a gift instead. Lachlan and Dain provided the backbone to the song with Dain producing the track and video, which became a teary success at the wedding party. We realised that it’s a lot of fun writing songs together and that it challenges Ambrin and myself to come out of our shells in writing our own music. We started writing tracks together in Dain’s family home in Mont Albert and started playing shows across Melbourne. At band practices, we – for a short while – tried to write a new track for each upcoming show, usually on the same day, which kept us on our toes throughout the process. Some of these songs stuck and made it onto the record, such as ‘Geelong,’ while others got dropped. Some songs on the record were written by individuals (‘Right Here’, ‘Chipsy’, ‘Water’), and the rest of the band added their parts to an almost finished song; other tracks started with Lachlan’s drum demos, to which the rest of us added parts later on (such as ‘Diamonds’, ‘Grasshopper’). I think the record expresses ideas we have as a group of close friends, as well as our individual creative ideas.”
“I’m not sure we had huge expectations of what to expect going into the record,” Lachlan Denton adds. “It was mostly a project of friendship, and an excuse to write music together in a relaxed environment. I was personally excited about writing with two people who were newer to songwriting, as I think we lose something as songwriters the more we do it, and gain other things. I like the way people new to songwriting make creative choices that are less conventional. That’s the element of punk I’ve always liked.”
There’s no birds left sitting
No rock worth hitting
Those songs weren’t worth singing
No land worth digging
When a voice whispers
There’s no looking back
And a tyrant christens
The sound of a lightning crack
Strangers in a stranger land
Lost faith in foreign command
There’s no love in the country
No there’s money on the contrary
Partner Look is special in that it houses multiple singers and songwriters, and as a result, their music is anything but singular in nature – yet it is nonetheless the workings of a collective collaborating as one. “It’s about friendship: Being encouraging to all members and fun. Overcoming stage-fright. This is carried beyond music – everyone is very supportive of various side-projects and interests band members have. To an extend this even shapes the band (Lachlan’s woodworking skills provided a physical space to create music undisturbed by scary noise-sensitive neighbours; Anila’s sewing skills provided the clothes worn on the album cover and video; Dain’s recording skills and Ambrin’s hosting and pottery skills, which will most likely also make an appearance sometime in the future).”
It’s a true group effort – a family affair. “Anila made the costumes for the record cover, Dainis engineered the album, and together we wrote and performed the songs,” Denton says. “We’ve all tried to make all decisions together on most things. I feel that this record could only be the record it is, so in that sense, I would say it does a pretty good job of introducing us as a band.”
Meanwhile, he notes how the album is named By the Book “because it rhymes with Partner Look. We’re not out to make a statement in every aspect of being a band. We’re happy to go with the first idea that comes to mind in many situations. I think we were originally going to call it Buy The Book.”
“Yes, when Lachlan came up with the lyrics for the song Partner Look we thought the chorus would make a good album title,” Ambrin adds. “We were tossing up between “Get The Look”, “Buy The Book” and “By The Book” and for no specific reason went with the latter.”
Sometimes things just sound right or look good on paper: It’s not always a big thinker or a whole to-do, but it is about the magic that comes out when these four get together. The band express particular pride over themes of place, belonging, and the “the relationship to ‘home’ in a connected and sometimes disconnected world” that can be found in their songs – “focusing on where we differ and where we, as humans, are inherently similar.”
Diving deeper, highlights abound between the album’s opening track “Partner Look” – the band’s theme song, if ever there was one – and its evocative, tender finale, “Endless Pain.”
“Though it is hard for me to pick favourites, I would say that ‘Rodeo Tragic,’ ‘Right Here,’ ‘Deutschland,’ and ‘Geelong’ are some of the catchiest tracks on the record,” Anila says. “In saying that, you can hear nuance between the songs – our slightly different personal approaches to lyricism and songwriting, though most of these songs were written or at least refined as a band. I love that we gave each total lyrical freedom to write lyrics for an even number of songs independently. Ambrin has a very hands-on approach to writing, which I think is great. She, for example, writes about visiting a close friend and her dog in the Northern Territory and observing her canine friend’s identity crisis in Leroy, or her experience of swarms of tourists when she and Dainis visited Italy a few years ago in Grasshopper. I think these lyrics are sweet and observant. Lachlan packs a lot of emotion and sense-making into his lyrics, lyrically reflecting on the idea of place in Deutschland, and in Endless Plains, in the latter, he tries to make sense of the love he has for his country of birth with all its complexities.”
“Our songs are generally a lot about sense-making and the role place plays in it, or the role we play in a place. Dainis also captures this emotion with a lyrical punch in Right Here, where he also explores our personal responsibilities when it comes to the place we inhabit. I also love Dainis’ creative lyrical side, which comes out in Diamonds. He wrote lyrics to the finished track researching ‘luxury’-related words in Google. I wrote most lyrics on long country drives we did prior to the pandemic – that is how I wrote ‘Speed Limit’ for example. An expression of a slight identity crisis when entering your 30ies and wondering how to live most meaningfully.”
There really is something to love in every one of By the Book‘s songs. This writer is particularly partial to the first three songs – including the title track, “Rodeo Tragic,” and “Water” – for how they mix simple melodies and accessible, charged lyrics with driving grooves and catchy beats.
“I really like ‘Geelong,’” Dainis Lacey reflects. “I remember after we wrote the track Lachlan briefly quit the band for a couple of days. (Lachlan: Not true!) Leroy is another favourite of mine, it’s always seemed strange to me that despite a worldwide love of dogs there aren’t many songs about them. (Anila: True.)” When every member of a band has their own favorite, that often bodes well for the album as a whole. It certainly does for By the Book, where a pleasant surprise seems to come through every song.
I was walking on the beach
I saw a horsey standing there
I said ‘hey, whatcha doing here?’
The horse looked up to me and said:
I’m just a horsey
Standing by the sea
I’m just a horsey
No top hat, no polo stick
No, horsey, don’t miss that whip
No jockey, no cowboy wannabe
Go horsey, run wild, run free
“I hope that the album is enjoyable and fun, but also that our sincerity shines through. Beyond that, I would also hope for it to be inspiring to others, perhaps similar to myself: to give it a go, to write and play music,” Anila shares. It has certainly been a journey for me, and still is, to challenge self-doubt and then to also go with these moments of inspiration and to make it happen. You could say that it has been a cross-cultural exercise between our German and Australian backgrounds, too. I am taking away from it the value of “no worries” over our inherent ‘German Angst.'”
Her sister Ambrin adds, “I guess I mainly just hope people like it. Putting out your own music for the first time is a pretty scary thing to do, so I just hope people are nice about it.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Partner Look’s By the Book with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album!
Stream: ‘By the Book’ – Partner Look
:: Inside By the Book ::
Partner Look is, in a way, written as an anthem and mission statement for the band. Musically it was one of the only songs written totally collaboratively in the studio. Anila’s bass line being the basis of the song which was then built upon. The drums are a nod to the angular feel of Post Punk pioneers Gang Of Four. As the song progresses so too does it loosen into a less up tight feel with the whole band singing along to the chorus.
Ambrin shared the chord progression with the rest of the band in Box Hill and whilst everyone figured out their parts, Ambrin made up some lyrics on the go. What began as comic surrealism featuring a horsey on a beach, soon morphed into a more serious comment on horse racing and animal rights in Australia more broadly.
She doesn’t want to believe in it, but her zodiac sign – Scorpio, appears to always be a little more broken, complicated, difficult than other signs. At war with the superstition that we are somewhat pre-defined in our life challenges depending on the stars we were born under, Anila also discovered that Water is her element and she meditates on these superstitions.
Right Here takes inspiration from the sound associated with Melbourne via Geelong label, Anti Fade. Referencing the paintings of Albert Tucker and the broadway flop Leonardo The Musical, Right Here draws upon a patchwork of corruption, greed and loss that lead to Australia’s involvement in Nauru and it’s inhumane treatment of refugees. Dainis stole the song name from one of Lachlan’s songs.
In early 2020, Ambrin spent a week with her friend Emma and her Kelpie dog Leroy in Pupanya, in the Northern Territory. Emma was working during the day, so Ambrin spent the time, without reception or internet connection, on the couch with Leroy. Without much else to do, Ambrin wrote lyrics about Leroy, exploring his identity and belonging and the unconditional love between him and Emma.
Anila wrote the lyrics to this song on her 31st birthday, heading to a show in Castlemaine with Ambrin on the highway. “Only Sleep Cures Fatigue” is a common road sign on the way and in a way Anila is reflecting on getting older, trying to live meaningfully and yet grappling with exhaustion and challenges that defined some of her early adulthood.
The chord progression for Deutshchland was written on keyboard by Ambrin. Lachlan quickly came up with a vocal melody which leant into the Springsteen feel of the striking chords. This was just before Lachlan’s first trip to Germany and as he had been learning german for the previous year, the idea of a place he had never visited but yet was so mentally immersed in came to mind when writing lyrics. When It came time to record, Lachlan leant heavy on the influence of German bands such as Neu and Kraftwerk in the driving drum beat that propels Deutschland forward.
‘Twenty four karat magic in the air, head to toe so player (hands up!)’ – Bruno Mars
Dainis googled everything to do with diamonds and precious stones, and came up with these luxurious and indulgent lyrics, which perfectly fit the wacky drum and bass rhythm.
Dainis and Ambrin went on a holiday in Italy a couple of years ago. Sitting on a piazza in Lucca late at night, Ambrin watched a huge grasshopper make his way across the piazza. She then saw a tourist slowly walking backwards and stepping on the grasshopper, without noticing. Ambrin felt weirdly emotional about witnessing this.
This song describes overstayed and fraught small town romance. The inevitability of kids and houses, finding comfort in Letterman on daytime TV, and a sinking feeling of acceptance that for better or worse – this is life.
Written on a whim on a long drive through the Victorian countryside, “Geelong” captures the slow transition into adulthood. Reaching the age where friends start settling down, the song was written wondering about life choices and decisions. Do we ever want to settle down and if so, where could we afford to while continuing to do the things we love? Maybe Geelong? Maybe another town.
Plains is a song that again delves into the idea of place and home. Written on the aeroplane while returning to Australia from Europe, Lachlan’s lyrics yearn for the place of his birth whilst exploring the conflicting feelings of home as a white person in a colonised land. Lachlan stole the song name from one of Dainis’ songs.
— — — —
? © Jason Boltex
:: Stream Partner Look ::