Picks and Pans Review: Folk of the '80s (part Iii)

updated 10/15/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/15/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Men Without Hats

What did we ever do to our neighbor to the north to deserve having this megaton bomb of pretension dropped on us? Last year the Montreal-spawned Men Without Hats slipped across our border under cover of a catchy tune, Safety Dance. That song, seeming to promise a fresh musical direction, caught the attention of pop-music lovers across the country. This album makes that promise seem about as authentic as the Northwest Passage. Men Without Hats is made up of bad singer Ivan Doroschuk, his brothers, Stefan and Colin, and Alan McCarthy. The attempt on Folk of the '80s (Part III) to recapture the magic of Safety Dance with Where Do the Boys Go? is like a motorcycle with stripped gears: It makes noise, but it doesn't go anywhere. Ivan has a voice somewhat like Marianne Faithfull's. To be fair to Marianne, however, Ivan's voice is so smugly fustian that he would probably be comfortable singing the text of a chemistry book. He also has the disconcerting habit of turning a word such as "young" into six syllables—yuh-uh-uh-uh-nn-g. The medieval motif prevalent in the video of Safety Dance reappears on this record. The instrumental Eurotheme resembles a French roundelay; the short No Dancing would recall a music-box lullaby, except for its lyrics: "People try to tell me my head is screwed on wrong/And I try to remind them that I knew it all along." It's going to take a lot of hockey players and bacon to make up for this Canadian export. (MCA)

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