Men Without Hats: Love In the Age of War – album review

Men Without Hats: Love In the Age of War (Cobraside Distribution Inc.)
Out Now

Most people who are fans of a New Wave 80’s synthpop band may be tempted to keep quiet about it for fear of not seeming ‘cool’ enough. Not so Colin McCracken who quite rightly is “out and proud” about his love for Men Without Hats.

Men Without Hats have been very quiet of late. Quiet to the extent of only releasing two albums in 21 years (with the exception of Ivan Doroschuk’s solo album ”ËœThe Spell’ in 1997). They have also been notably absent throughout the recent resurgence of 80’s nostalgia and this has stood to their credit. It is almost out of nowhere that they have released ”ËœLove In The Age of War’, which arrives without fuss nor fanfare, yet it
only takes the opening seconds to realise that we are in for something special.

Nothing could have prepared me for the enjoyment which this album has provided. It is pure, unadulterated electronic fun. The distinctive baritone vocals of Doroschuk have never sounded better, and the bubblegum synth pop on display is reminiscent of The Sisters of Mercy or Oingo Boingo on a particularly good day.

The songs are simple in structure and delivery, but they also have a sense of flawlessness to them. They are, in fact, wonderfully put together pop songs and I haven’t heard quality pop music in so long that I had almost forgotten what it sounded like.

It will undoubtedly have its fair share of critics, but for those willing to invest some time in this album they will surely find themselves greatly rewarded. The first single off the album is ”ËœHead Above Water’, (see video below) a ridiculously infectious 3 minute wonder which emulates the positives of 1980’s pop music without retreading too much old ground.

The production was provided by Dave ”ËœRave’ Ogilvie, who has worked with industrial pioneers Skinny Puppy, Killing Joke and Marilyn Manson. He definitely brings a very layered and polished finish to the overall feel of the album. There are smatterings of darkness which work well and while a few tracks lag somewhat, they are always quick to interject some energy into the proceedings which quickly eradicate any misgivings which may have been forming.

The easiest way to describe this album is fun. It’s light, accessible and has something to offer any fan of quality, synthesizer heavy pop music. I have already embarrassed myself several times whilst listening to it, but hey, we can dance if we want to.

Find out more about Men Without Hats at their website here.

All words by Colin McCracken. You can read more from Colin on LTW here, on his website or follow him on Twitter.

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Colin McCracken is an Irish writer and cinematic obsessive who writes extensively about movies on a daily basis for his website He is equally passionate about vinyl (he used to run an independent record store), literature, live music and film soundtracks. He can also be found regularly on twitter as @zombiehamster.


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