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Zoot Woman

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Album Review

It's 1981. An American grade-schooler brings his copies of Hall & Oates' Private Eyes and the Human League's Dare to show and tell. This results in routine beatdowns at the hands of brutish Mötley Crüe-loving classmates, to the point where he decides to feign interest in music that is less dangerous. It's a necessary playground survival tactic. Thankfully, the three members of Zoot Woman — who were all born around the same time as our hapless victim — probably never went through something traumatic like that. They're from various parts of Europe, not the States, which means that their taste for less-macho music was more acceptable. And now that taste has carried their group into a second album, one that's as tenaciously tied to their childhood favorites as the debut. Despite apparent decades-old inspirations, Zoot Woman aren't necessarily attempting to replicate those records; they've also stayed up on all forms of dance-pop throughout the intervening years, and you can tell. (If you need outside evidence, look no further than member Stuart Price's mixes as Jacques Lu Cont, which have featured Mantronix, Chaka Khan, Junior Sanchez, Chicken Lips, and Ladytron.) Nothing on this second album is as irresistible as "It's Automatic" or "Living in a Magazine," two alternate-reality number ones from the debut, but there's no less than five contenders for the Top 20 of that same chart here. The band's got the whole package, from top-shelf songcraft to soft synth-led hooks to dancefloor-ready rhythms (the bassist must know each and every Peter Hook line inside out) — all the way down to the constant flitting between exuberance and melancholia. If a couple more American bands could only shed the put-on quasi-industrial elements from their otherwise synth-pop-oriented approach, we just might have our own equivalent of Zoot Woman to be proud of. Unfortunately, those bands are probably still scarred from treatment like the kind mentioned up top.

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Owing as much to Hall & Oates and Roxy Music as the Pet Shop Boys, the stylish electro-pop trio Zoot Woman features producer Stuart Price (who also works as Les Rhythmes Digitales and Jacques Lu Cont) and brothers Johnny and Adam Blake (aka the remix duo Paper Faces). Fusing traditional instrumentation and techniques with retro electronics, the trio began working together in the mid-'90s, issuing a couple of singles for Wall of Sound before Price switched his focus to Les Rhythmes Digitales....
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Zoot Woman, Zoot Woman
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