Haircut One Hundred – Pelican West (Arista, 1982)

Judging by Haircut One Hundred’s relegation to the discount vinyl bin that time forgot, it is easy to place this early 80’s assembly as a new wave also-ran. But revisiting this important debut by an under-appreciated band yields plenty of comforts for someone pining for simpler times of plastic, polyester and bright-eyed optimism. Hardly the stuff of Margaret Thatcher-era England, mind you, but the soaring spirits of these preppy post-teens is far from milquetoast. Compared to the effervescent work of Culture Club and Spandau Ballet—also new wave, new romantic chart runners of the era who deserve more respect than they are now allotted—the first iteration of “the 100” is positively muscular, palpable pop. “Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)” could have been titled “Band Meets World” had there been longevity and foresight in the voice and heart of lead Nick Heyward. He is iridescent throughout the track’s take on Talking Heads-style afrotronics, several years before that became a thing with Byrne and cohorts’ Speaking in Tongues. This lead single, followed by the tropical crooner “Love Plus One” and two others, cracked the Top 10 in England, bringing the band brief radio play and prominence. Sadly, Heyward was too big for his Haircut and wool sweater; soon after Pelican West exhausted its singles, he attempted an unsuccessful solo career. Haircut One Hundred had one more album in them (the relatively dull Paint and Paint), but with a new, inexperienced lead, they never quite took off again.

Vincent Zed

 

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