Record Review - 4 August 15 2001

Staring out from the cover of their debut, Living in a Magazine, in white suits and skinny ties against a background as pure and impenetrable as driven snow (no, not the innocent kind), '80s revivalist trio Zoot Woman are airbrushed to a point approaching illustration. They're androgynous, smooth and perfectly constructed, high fashion like the ads they casually but not convincingly pretend to merely ape. Zoot Woman is postmodern. Zoot Woman is pastiche. Yet Zoot Woman is frighteningly sincere, pull over and gawk, paparazzi attracting, glamorous synth-pop.

Brits Stuart Price (better know as Jacques Lu Cont of Les Rhythmes Digitales) and brothers Johnny and Adam Blake, for all their image consciousness, put tunes first. Actually, the tunes first came circa 1983, but aren't as vapid as that decade, nor dragged down by '90s irony. From the opening "It's Automatic," a hearty helping of Hall & Oates, to songs steeped in Human League, Ultravox, fuzzy synth lines and perfectly tailored drum patterns, Magazine luckily doesn't trade point for pop. Closer to demure French retro rockers Phoenix's 2000 debut, United, than Price's own dance-oriented LRD work, Zoot Woman plays throwback salvos that are much easier to warm up to than any of the scary '80s catwalk revivalism. Legwarmers and shoulder pads, anyone? Thought not.

But how different are things, anyway? Dot-coms are the junk bonds of the New Millennium, and what the world needs now is some just light-in-the-loafers enough soft rock. Living in a Magazine is satisfying considering it's so strongly presented as being utterly shallow. It's that new drug that Huey Lewis & the News longed for — alluring surface, no unpleasant aftertaste and you're instantaneously hooked. Living in a Magazine should include a razor blade and a mirrored insert. It's certainly addictive enough.


Stuart Price (aka Jacques Lu Cont of Les Rhythmes Digitales) DJs at eleven50 Sat., Aug. 18, and performs as part of Madonna's band at Philips Arena Aug. 19-20.??