Label: Fierce Panda
Year of Release: 1999
Ah, Fierce Panda... somebody really should set up an obscure mp3 blog somewhere devoted entirely to their releases, because whilst as a label they've made some rather famous A&R decisions (Coldplay - yes, they're partly to blame), they've also pissed their scent on some very unusual projects as well. We can waffle on about Supergrass, The Bluetones, Art Brut, Ash and The Polyphonic Spree, and doubtless bump up our webstats in the process, but what, my dear friend, of Pullover? Or Coin Op? Or Tiny Too?
Going on-topic, as one would expect me to by the second paragraph, this Laptop/ Solex double-header is probably one of my favourite Fierce Panda releases, from a period when the music industry in Britain was completely and utterly confused and throwing all kinds of things which didn't smell too Dadrock at the wall. Laptop were (and, apparently, still are) essentially the rather retro-styled electronic project of one New Yorker Jesse Hartman, releasing records which sound as if they'd find more favour now than they ever had a hope of achieving in the late nineties. His version of Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World" is, in fact, not dis-similar in approach to Giorgio Moroder's version of "Nights in White Satin" I uploaded some weeks back - all static and sex, and not necessarily better, just fantastically different.
Solex, on the other hand, were a project of Elisabeth Esselink in Holland, whose kitchen sink approach to songwriting and sampling either jars or sounds fantastic according to what mood you're in and also what track you're listening to. "You're So Square" here sounds like a riot in a record store's remainder bins, which, given that Esselink used samples from records nobody wanted to buy sums the situation up quite well. If she started a blog, it would probably be better than this one.
It's frequently tempting to slam Fierce Panda for unleashing a lot of fairly predictable NME-approved nonsense on to the public and then expecting to almost be given medals for it, but we need to take a deep breath, get some perspective, and remember that they do actually have a bit of an eccentric and varied discography. This single alone proves that.