Randy VanWarmer

Warmer/Terraform

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Like Collector's Choice's 2007 disc before it, Edsel's 2012 two-fer of Warmer and Terraform pairs Randy VanWarmer's first two albums for Bearsville, but this adds the bonus track "Stay Young." "Just When I Needed You Most," the single from Warmer and VanWarmer's only true hit, doesn't really represent Warmer well. It suggests that Randy VanWarmer is an unrepentant soft rock simp along the lines of Dan Hill, and while the singer/songwriter certainly isn't macho -- he frequently delves into soft, sweet ballads throughout this debut -- he is, unsurprisingly for somebody signed to Bearsville, cut from the Todd Rundgren cloth, containing a heavy power pop bent and a will for experimentation, elements that are just hinted at on Warmer, yet it's enough to make this a fairly compelling record. Apart from that sappily sad hit and its cousin "The One Who Loves You," the pop on is sprightly and even those moments of melancholy are exquisitely arranged. That attention to detail has a better showcase on propulsive numbers like "Gotta Get Out of Here" and "Forever Loving You," or the relaxed gait of "Deeper and Deeper," and those layered productions pointed the way toward what VanWarmer would do next. Instead of picking up the thread of "Just When I Needed You Most," Randy VanWarmer ran away from its sweet balladry on his nifty, neo-new wave sophomore set Terraform. He hints at sci-fi in the album's title and follows through on its promise with the mini-epic title track, a futuristic suite that gets seriously silly well before it reaches the midway mark on its ten-minute run time. The rest of Terraform looks toward the future in a very new wave way: it's bright, colorful, and cleanly lit, filled with gilded guitars and steely synths, and punctuated by handclaps along with the occasional hint of reggae. In other words, it's pretty much the opposite of whatever "Just When I Needed You Most" is, containing none of that ballad's soft rock solipsism: Terraform is punchy, propulsive, and imaginative, a weird little pop gem caught partway between AOR and new wave that deserves to be discovered.

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