Review: Men Without Hats return with â€œLove In the Age of Warâ€
Written by admin on June 15, 2012
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 Hatsâ€™ 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 (â€˜everybody kno-o-owsâ€).
The lead track, â€œDevil Comes Roundâ€ hits the listener with early new-wave â€œspace ageâ€ effects and retro-style pitch bending before Doroschuckâ€™s booming voice comes in, a voice that mellows out a bit for â€œHead Above Water,â€ 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 â€œThe Great Ones Rememberâ€ and â€œThings in My Lifeâ€ from Rhythm of Youth) to a chorus that pays homage to the bandâ€™s Pop Goes the World and â€¦In the 21st Century albums.
As Men Without Hats surprised fans with two country tracks in Men Without Hatsâ€™ 1991 Sideways, the band included a few twists in Love in the Age of War: a nod to the disco era with â€œYour Beautiful Heartâ€ and a stunning ballad in 6/8 time, â€œClose To the Sun.â€
As a songwriter, Doroschuk can be both profound and jaunty at the same time. In â€œThis War,â€ he tackles greed and enmity with lines like (now your blue suede shoes havenâ€™t paid their dues/hoping better sense would prevailâ€ and â€œthe 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, Iâ€™d pay the price.) to inspire a simple message of insight and understanding in â€œLive and Learn.â€
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.