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Review: Men Without Hats return with “Love In the Age of War”

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    Months after completing their first North American tour in over 20 years, Men Without Hats releases their first full album in nine years, Love in the Age of War.

    Of his first U.S. tour in over 20 years last year, Ivan Doroschuk said he had a blast performing his classic hits. Thus, it is natural that Love in the Age of War would be a virtual throwback to Men Without Hats’ years of early success, with high energy synth tracks reminiscent of Rhythm of Youth and Folk of the 80s (Part III). Back are the raw, upbeat keyboard melodies and bass lines that anchored the MWH signature sound as Doroschuk superbly employs his signature baritone voice, one-beat falsettos and ability to stretch out a one syllable word into several (‘everybody kno-o-ows”).

    The lead track, “Devil Comes Round” hits the listener with early new-wave “space age” effects and retro-style pitch bending before Doroschuck’s booming voice comes in, a voice that mellows out a bit for “Head Above Water,” the first single from the album. The latter mixes a more modern pop approach to the classic MWH style. Those cuts are contrasted by the title song, which cunningly switches from the instrumentally raw (similar to the reprise version of “The Great Ones Remember” and “Things in My Life” from Rhythm of Youth) to a chorus that pays homage to the band’s Pop Goes the World and …In the 21st Century albums.

    As Men Without Hats surprised fans with two country tracks in Men Without Hats’ 1991 Sideways, the band included a few twists in Love in the Age of War: a nod to the disco era with “Your Beautiful Heart” and a stunning ballad in 6/8 time, “Close To the Sun.”

    Photo by Chris Cordani

    As a songwriter, Doroschuk can be both profound and jaunty at the same time. In “This War,” he tackles greed and enmity with lines like (now your blue suede shoes haven’t paid their dues/hoping better sense would prevail” and “the only place to hide from the world outside/is buried inside your brain.) Doroschuk cleverly strings together several not-so-closely-related well-known phrases (I would walk the plank, swallow fire, rule the waves, tame the lion,/I would shoot the moon, kiss the sky, damn the cost, I’d pay the price.) to inspire a simple message of insight and understanding in “Live and Learn.”

    While Men Without Hats went back to their roots with Love in the Age of War; the music is as danceable as their creations were in the ’80s and would translate quite well to the modern club floors as the new wave sound continues its comeback.

    Love in the Age of War is available on Amazon and other outlets.

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    About the Author:

    This is Chris Cordani, host of the “Revenge of the 80s” Radio Show 709pm Fridays (premeireing on March 14th on Q99.1FM). This blog and the show are here so we can relive the decade where New Wave, thin ties and cheap sunglasses were king. The show is also simulcast on wtbq.com.

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