In America, teen idols are made via sitcoms and soaps. In England, the medium is rock bands. Surprisingly, some of the one-week wonders show native talent; Haircut 100, the octet that played at the Wax Museum last night, is one of the more promising.
Like dozens of other bands, it comes out of Britain's highly stylized neo-funk scene, with a three-man brass section churning full force under the insistent pop hooks of songwriter and fashion plate Nick Heyward. It's as if Lighthouse had merged with the Xavier Cugat Orchestra and been armed with punchy horn charts by Maceo Parker. The resulting sounds fall into two categories: brassy Latin dance funk and slightly less brassy pop funk. Haircut 100's success in disco/dance clubs was explained on its two biggest hits in each category, "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)" and "Love Plus One." The latter song, with its ringing guitars, pulsating percussive bottom and undulating horns, was especially irresistible, bouncy, bright and direct--a pure pop song for the dancing '80s.
Looking like squeaky-clean descendants of Brideshead, the musicians present a pretty picture that happens to be backed up by Heyward's clever pop sensibility. Saxophonist Phil Smith deserves equal credit for elastic solos and driving ensemble.
At this point, the band needs more disparate material: Last night's show was short and powerful, but lacking in dynamic variation. Haircut 100 also needs more material, period: The encore consisted of repeats of "Shirts" and "Love Plus One," played earlier in the set. Someone should tell them that encore implies more, not again.