In 1983 they taught the world the Safety Dance… and they’re back with a new album full of dance synth fusion that sounds straight out of the same era.
Yes, Men Without Hats have been back in the studio and are back on the road too. I caught up with lead singer Ivan Doroschuk ahead of the groups first European tour in 20 years, a tour which unfortunately includes just one UK date… but fear ye not MWH’s fans, Ivan says “It’s short and sweet, an in and out tour but we hope to be back very shortly and do more shows in the UK.”
The UK holds a dear place in Ivans heart “We shot all our videos there, the Safety Dance video there, our PR company were based there so it will be like a homecoming for me”.
The return of the group comes on the back of an extensive summer tour of North America in support of the Human League and the B-52’s. Back performing live ignited a burning passion in Ivan to return to the studio following a long break from music.
“I spent the last 10 years being a stay at home father, raising my son, so I was itching to get back out there and when I finally did it was like riding a bicycle, it was a lot of fun.”
The new album ‘Love In The Age of War’ has the same feel of the groups big breakthrough album from 30 years earlier, ‘Rhythm of Youth’, a conscious effort by Ivan “we went into the studio this time and purposely tried to make a record that sounded like it was recorded 2 weeks after Safety Dance.” A move that has gone down well with the bands loyal following. “The fans have been saying that it sounds like Men Without Hats, that’s the main comment that I’m getting, that the new stuff sounds like the old stuff”.
The group went to great lengths to create the same studio feel as they had in the 80s. They took away all modern studio comforts and re-introduced old equipment. The result is an album full of high energy dance beats which only lets up temporarily on the track ‘Close To the Sun’, 3 songs from the end. The lead single from the album is ‘Head Above Water’ a tune that pulses with energy and is characterised by Ivans strong, deep, rasping vocals. It’s a 3 minute burst of light synth pop that obviously borrows heavily on the 80s without ever sounding dated.
Another song that grabs you by the ear and drags you along for the duration of the track is ‘Live and Learn’, while the title track is another standout as Ivans sings “I tell you what you’ve got, you’ve got me on my knees, the Age of War”
For me the albums highlight and the track I’ve returned to most is its opener. The powerful burst of ‘Devil Come Round.’ carries an infectious pounding beat that leaves you nodding your head like a Churchill dog. The chorus hook “when the sun goes down everybody lose control, that’s when the devil come round and said buddy I need your soul” remains swimming in your head a long while after the track subsides.
Let’s be clear, this album and its tracks will not have the same impact on society that Safety Dance had 30 years ago, but for fans with a keen ear on 80s synth, this record leaves you with the feeling that it’s still ok to dance if you want to!
Reviewed and Interviewed by Paul Stephenson
Paul is the presenter of the 80s Rewind Show on MFR2 and the 80s Rewind Again podcast which is available to download for free on itunes: http://ow.ly/heUHh