Formed in Montreal, Canada in 1980, Men Without Hats was the brainchild of American-born vocalist Ivan Doroschuk and Jérémie Arrobas, who created all the accompaniment on their records with synthesizers, aided by Ivan’s brothers Stefan (bass) and Colin (guitar).
An independent EP, Folk of the 80s, created overseas interest to the extent that it was issued on Britain’s Stiff label, along with an edit of the track Antarctica as a single.
From their coolly synthesized dance beat to Ivan’s tastefully muted Bowie fixation, they managed to incorporate nearly all that was hip and marketable into their sound. This ploy netted them a solitary global hit with The Safety Dance in 1982.
Most of the songs on their debut album, Rhythm Of Youth (1982), were about either clothes or dancing (sometimes both) and hearing Doroschuk apply his dark, melodramatic baritone to such eternal puzzlers as “Imagine if everyone had the same haircuts” was not likely to change the life of any listener.
Yet the Hatless ones insisted on presenting such philosophical gems as if they actually meant something.
The most damning aspect of Men Without Hats, though, was their utter lack of imagination. There was nothing in their music that even a casual listener hadn’t already heard from Depeche Mode, Devo, Yazoo, Duran Duran or a dozen others.
The group officially disbanded in 1993 although Ivan reformed Men Without Hats in 2010, utilising professional backup musicians.
Guitar, bass, violin
Keyboards, percussion, electronics