Randy VanWarmer

Beat of Love/The Things That You Dream

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Like Collectors' Choice's 2007 disc before it, Edsel's 2012 two-fer of Beat of Love and The Things That You Dream pairs Randy VanWarmer's final two albums for Bearsville without adding any bonus tracks. Beat of Love continues with the futuristic new wave pulse of Terraform but threads back some of the softer sounds, yet Randy VanWarmer doesn't indulge in sentiment. If anything, he piles on the snark, often in the form of tongue-in-cheek reggae numbers, a sign of his musical dexterity. He also throws in the cold, steely electro-pop of "Suzi Found a Weapon," a full-on rocker in "When I'm Dead and Gone," and a bunch of lushly produced pop, and all these twists and turns never seem abrupt; they're nimbly threaded together so Beat of Love flows easily -- so easily that one might overlook just what a layered and successful mainstream pop album it is, actually. The Things That You Dream, arriving two years after Beat of Love, covers a similar amount of ground but it ditches the cynical snark and the reggae affectations, choosing to double down on the soft pop and the cleanly lit AOR rock. Any lingering new wave influence is apparent in the latter, where the guitars battle with the keyboards, and that makes for the liveliest music here, including a version of "Shadows of the Night" that would later be a hit for Pat Benatar but sounds like a hard-rocking REO Speedwagon tune in VanWarmer's hands. He dabbles in covers elsewhere, doing a perfectly fine version of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic," and if the album winds up sounding slightly schizophrenic, flitting between two sounds -- Beat of Love had the advantage of dabbling in a bunch of different sounds -- its best moments are clever and tuneful early-'80s mainstream pop/rock.

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