Don't Try This at Home

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On his third record, Don't Try This at Home, Laptop hits the keys and beats the electric skins of an '80s club. Where many electroclash outfits call to mind the early '80s with an indie twist, Jesse Hartman, aka Laptop, "spins you right round" into the mid-'80s. Hartman's vocals sound like a cross between Peter Murphy and David Bowie. Guitars have that safe distortion and drive of popular '80s tracks, and the keyboards layer at the appropriate time. All of the tracks have a chorus that hooks like that of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, New Order, or Dead or Alive. "Let Yourself Go" gives listeners a glance at Laptop putting his own spin on the music by weaving synths in and out of the driving guitars, much like Magnetic Fields. Also, there is the appearance of guest female vocalist Jessica Ylvisaker, which provides another fun addition to the track. The themes that run through Don't Try This at Home touch issues that pervade kitschy New York City living, such as surviving in a hip environment on "Want In?" and "Let's Not," witty goofing on "Ratso Rizzo" and "Don't Try This at Home," and songs of love on "Surprise! Surprise!" and "Yesterday's Muse." Adding to the '80s elements already intact, the packaging is a high fashion and design affair that calls upon Hartman's cinematic experience as a filmmaker.

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