February 05, 1990 12:00 PM

Men Without Hats

When this Canadian group bolted into the limelight in 1983 with the hit “Safety Dance” (and achieved the dubious distinction of being one of the first groups to use midgets in a video), their name had an oblique appeal. Recall that this was at the time Men at Work were big.

Men Without Hats’s 1988 follow-up, Pop Goes the World, suggested another name might be more apropos. Say, oh, Men Without the Faintest Idea of What They’re Doing. With their third album, the group once again has a guiding principle: They’re out to imitate Midnight Oil.

That’s clear in the hard-driving musical style, the ecological orientation of the lyrics and in singer Ivan Doroschuk’s increasingly imperative and quavery delivery. The result is a silly pop collection that, when it isn’t ludicrously pompous, is kind of enjoyable in a loopy way. It’s certainly a considerable improvement over the last outing.

Along the way, MWH commits a bad Mott the Hoople knockoff (“Everybody’s Selling Something”) and a bad Cars knockoff (“I’m in Love”), and they cover an old ABBA Song (“S.O.S.”). That’s too delicious not to repeat: They actually cover an ABBA tune. Let’s try that name again. How about, oh, Men Without Shame? (Mercury)

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