Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s

“Gimme The Nite” hit me first time as funny, catchy, clever and good for maybe two listens. After three listens, it stopped sounding brittle and started sounding brilliant. Laptop’s deadpan dyspepsia is like the Magnetic Fields taking off Thom Yorke, and the contemptuously mechanoid instrumentation is in similar territory. In fact, on the strength of their singles so far we can surmise that Laptop are what Radiohead might be if they had synthesisers and senses of humour. OK, it’s a big stretch, but there’s the same horrified agony-cum-ennui at the crushing weariness of modern living and its senseless yet inescapable pursuit of commodities, and something of the same blunt, coal-black irony. It’s just Radiohead are singing about pigs in cages and Laptop are singing about not being able to get a shag on a Saturday night.

Well, not really: the character in the Laptop song is singing about that. This single is a sustained piece of terrific character acting, the singer’s voice pitched perfectly between cracking desperation and constipated louchness. He moans like a lounge-suited elephant and so the synthi-guitars behind him do too, over a fingersnapping drum machine backing and kling-klang electro-pop one-note riffs. And behind all that snatches of (actually very sharp) dialogue drop in and out – a pitiful singles bar charmer and his incredulous, sniggering intended, probably lifted from an American sitcom I’d affect not to like. Laptop’s own chat-up lines are considerably worse even than the “C’mon, just one drink” antics of his samplee: “I’ve got a feeling you’re like me / A damaged package full of uncertainty” makes me grin every time. And in only a couple of minutes, the complete soul-shrivelling awfulness of being on the pull with the clock running out is butterfly-pinned to your ears by this diamond record, as good an argument for monogamy as I’ve heard all decade.