The best anti-Metal album of my youth.
Back in the mid 1980s I was graciously invited into the world of Metal legends METALLICA, ANTHRAX, and MEGADETH. Oddly, along with these epiphanous introductions I was also made privy to MEN WITHOUT HATS–a Canadian band made most (in)famous from the quirky and unqualified 80s Pop hit “The Safety Dance”.
Their pseudo-concept 1987 album ‘Pop Goes the World‘ would soon become one my favorite albums of that decade. I can barely explain how this most decidedly non-Metal album could so effortlessly sit alongside the likes of ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘Rust in Peace’, and ‘Among the Living’ in my heart and soul. But, here it goes…
Band leader/songwriter/vocalist Ivan Doroschuk along with brother Stefan Doroschuk and keyboardist Lenny Pinkas crafted a joyous celebration of life. The songs drift between synth dance pop and new wave through an art-Prog sheen. The title track “Pop Goes the World” exemplifies this dichotomy–think Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” on happy pills and ‘shrooms.
Aside from the occasional extra cheesy effort, these songs rise to those ear-worm heights exclusive of 80s Pop. Exemplified by the Ian ‘Jethro Tull’ Anderson enhanced “On Tuesday“, stirring ballad “Lose My Way“, the all-things 80s excess of “Moonbeam“, and a horn fueled “In the Name of Angels“.
The album’s finish is nothin’ but net. Player-piano intro “La Valse d’Eugine” unleashes the avant-garde funeral/carnival “Jenny Wore Black“. While “Walk on Water” is a nearly untoppable potency of hook and emotion that remains, after 30 years, one of my Desert Island songs. And “The End (of the World)” closes on a quiet, reflectively haunting note.
Nothing here is revelatory, much of it is, in fact, quite ridiculous. Infectious, ear-worm melodies and dance along performances in an undying celebration of love and life. If you want to feel better, no matter what, sit down and take in MEN WITHOUT HATS’ ‘Pop Goes the World‘. Recommended for desert islands and everyplace else.