Laptop The Old Me Vs. The New You

The idea of reliving acts like Howard Jones and Frankie Goes To Hollywood is scary to most people, so hearing records by '80s-obsessed rockers nowadays is risky. Thankfully, Laptop and Zoot Woman are two really good examples of how to revive a repressed era. Laptop is a guy named Jesse Hartman, formerly of Pavement-ed rockers Sammy. Setting his sights on more of a programmed one-man show, Hartman's The Old Me Vs. The New You is half Gary Numan and half Stephin Merritt. After a past of disappointments, Hartman uses a boxing persona to take jabs at such subjects as dating, technology and corporate America. His bleak views of life are an entertaining way of revealing his vices. Whether it is using actual phone messages left for him ("Social Life"), or pretending he rules the Earth ("21st Century Word"), his vicious social satire can leave you in stitches. Where Zoot Woman (featuring Stuart Price of Les Rythmes Digitales on bass) is successful is in their attempt to seriously portray themselves as '80s artists. Their fashion, artwork and graphics are all so Miami Vice, with white suits, skinny ties and airbrushed photos. The self-titled debut album is a nod to artists like the Human League, Depeche Mode and Soft Cell, with programmed drumbeats, synthetic vocals and plenty of keyboards. Their cover of Kraftwerk's "The Model" is a fantastically grooved up version of the '78 classic, while songs like "You And I" and "Jessie" will drive you nuts thinking they are covers, with their infectious harmonies. Why couldn't synth bands sound this good 20 years ago? (Trust Me)