Men Without Hats: Love in the Age of War
In 1983, Men Without Hats hit number one on the US Dance charts with their second single, “The Safety Dance.” Nearly 30 years later, it is impossible to separate the band from their lone hit. When I heard the band was releasing their seventh studio album, Love in the Age of War I wondered how the band has evolved the last three decades. After my initial listen through, I determined the band has not. Found are the antiquated drum sounds of mid-80s dance music, the retro Devo sounding synthesizers, and lead singer Ivan Doroschuk’s signature baritone. But before writing the album off as corny and passe, I decided to give it another spin.
Much like after multiple listens of “The Safety Dance” people drew the conclusion it was about safe sex (which its not), revisiting Love in the Age of War left me to believe even if the band had very little to offer in the way of anything new musically but maybe they could offer something new lyrically. “Girl With the Silicon Eyes” is one of the more interesting lyrical songs. Doroschuk sings: “With every little step she takes/she knows her mother’s back could break/if everyone knows crack kills so should I/she’s the girl with the silicon eyes.” The juxtaposition of common childhood phraseology mixed with government sanctioned anti-drug propaganda adds to the track’s exploration of messaging and media brain-washing.
The socially-conscious songs don’t end there. Tracks like “This War” and “Love in the Age of War” show that Men Without Hats are fighting a fight with their seventh album. Unfortunately, marketers will tell you that you can have a good message but if no one is listening to it, what’s the point? Men Without Hats have a message but their antiquated sound make me wonder who will be listening? Some 80s holdovers might find the album tantalizing but I have serious doubts about the market for this album in the under 50 crowd.