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Haircut One Hundred
Label: Arista Records
Genre: Rock, New Wave, Pop Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Love Plus One
02 Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)
03 Lemon Firebrigade
04 Marine Boy
05 Milk Farm
06 Kingsize (You're My Little Steam Whistle)
07 Fantastic Day
08 Baked Bean
09 Snow Girl
10 Love's Got Me In Triangles
11 Surprize Me Again
12 Calling Captain Autumn
If Orange Juice famously wanted to sound like a combination of Chic and the Velvet Underground, then Haircut 100 must have wanted to sound like a combination of Orange Juice and Chic. Heavy on the Juice. On their debut and only album with band founder Nick Heyward, Pelican West, the group display all the skittery beats, deep-voiced crooning, and pop smarts of OJ, while adding more funk and saxophone than Edwyn Collins and co. probably ever imagined. That Haircut 100 scored a bigger hit than the band they so clearly idolized must have rubbed the lads in Orange Juice the worst way, but it's clear from even one listen through Pelican West that Haircut 100 were more than just mere copycats. ''Love Plus One'' is that aforementioned mega hit and it deserved to be a timeless classic. Nick Heyward knew how to write pop hooks and the band fills it in with brilliant subtlety. There are siblings to that song scattered across the record. ''Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl),'' ''Marine Boy,'' and the ecstatic ''Fantastic Day'' all have wonderfully snappy melodies and huge choruses, ''Milk Film,'' ''Surprise Me Again,'' and ''Snow Girl'' have a refined pop sound that skews a little less gleeful and a little more melancholy. Sure, they are all prone to sax breakdowns and horn section crescendos that sound like Chicago happened by the studio, but the bulk of the album is first-rate '80s sophisti-pop. The few tracks that cast aside the traditional song structure and jump over to the Chic side of the equation are fun, though very much of their time. ''Love's Got Me in Triangles'' and ''Calling Captain Autumn'' are both quite British, with a sort of awkward kind of funk almost quaint in its unfunkiness. Heyward's attempts at rapping on the latter achieve beat poet-meets-Captain Sensible levels of uncoolness that circle back around to coolness in the end somehow. The entire record is a little like that. From their corny outfits to their lighter-than-air sound, Haircut 100 were never going to be dangerous or sexy. The best they could hope for was escapist, but never mindless fun, and on Pelican West they bury their arrows dead center in the middle of that target.
Haircut One Hundred's Biography
Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]
Pelican WestCombining light funk with frothy pop, Haircut 100 was one of the cleanest and most accessible new wave groups. Formed in 1980, the British band's core members were vocalist Nick Heyward, bassist Les Nemes, and guitarist Graham Jones; the following year, drummer Memphis Blair Cunningham, saxophonist Phil Smith, and percussionist Mark Fox joined the group. Once the band was signed to Arista Records, they were put under the direction of producer Bob Sargeant, who helped them polish their stylish pop. Released in late 1981, Haircut 100's first single, ''Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl),'' managed to reach number four in the U.K., establishing the group's widespread appeal. The band released their debut album, Pelican West, in early 1982. Their next single, ''Love Plus One,'' was a bigger hit, making the band one of the hottest British pop groups of the year. However, their momentum crashed to a halt when Heyward decided to pursue a solo career. Fox became the lead vocalist in early 1983, yet Haircut 100 could not replicate their previous success; they broke up after the release of their second album, 1984's Paint and Paint.