We all like a bit of 80s influenced shizz, right? Listen and learn from New York’s Laptop whose cool as cubes 90s debut EP ‘End Credits’ was quite the ear-catcher
Back in the 90s, before the previous decade had a proper chance to be a fading memory, a first wave of artists who grew up with the 1980s ringing in their ears firsthand were offering up musical takes on their own formative years.
There was Les Rhythmes Digitales, or uber producer Stuart Price as he’s called these days, whose ‘Darkdancer’ album was a rebooted electro floorwiper, his Wall Of Sound labelmate Theo Keating was serving up old school hip hop as The Wiseguys, there was breakbeat collective The Freestlyers, the funk-fuelled disco of Skint’s Freddy Fresh and there was native New Yorker Jesse Hartman, who operated as Laptop. Yeah, don’t try googling him these days, right?
As a kid, Hartman had an older brother who filled his head with NYC’s finest including Richard Hell, Television, Talking Heads, Velvet Underground… he ended up touring with Richard Hell & The Voidoids when he was in his teens.
A story for another time, that. By his own admission, Hartman was no fan of the electronic music arriving on the airwaves during the 80s. But The Human League, New Order, Depeche Mode, Numan all seeped in because in the mid-90s, much to his own amazement, he started making music that sounded like stuff he didn’t much care for when he was growing up.
The five-track EP ‘End Credits’ was Laptop’s debut outing in December 1997. You can hear the 80s loud and clear, with heavy doses of The Human League and Gary Numan and dashes of Bowie and Lou Reed too (see EP closer ‘Myth America’, clearly a tribute to his brother’s record collection). Best of all though is Hartman’s razor sharp wit and sparkling lyrics. The EP’s title track is about the indignity of being dumped by answerphone, or rather trying to and getting the distinct impression she got there first. His thing was about making sense of the shambolic WTF-ness life tended to throw at you in your 20s.
If he was releasing this stuff now, we’d be falling over ourselves. Back then he deserved better. Single ‘Gimme The Night’ followed in March 1998, which compounded interest and, as was the case in the late 90s when anyone caught the attention, he was snapped up by a major label. Island released two Laptop singles in 1999, the deliciously sour ‘I’m So Happy You Failed’ and ‘Nothing To Declare’ before palming him off when the debut album didn’t appear as quickly as they would’ve liked.
He reappeared in 2000 on Norwegian label Trust Me Records with ‘Opening Credits’, a kind of greatest hits collection, and followed it up in 2001 with ‘The Old Me vs The New You’, his debut album proper, both of which sound as good now as they did then are both well worth hunting down.