In league

Reaches is Justin Randel, and once you know that it is hard to imagine these chilly techno burners as anything but a one-man effort. But if that knowledge is blocked out, it's much easier to hear this as 1981-era Human League.

I Am Alive and Well
(We Be Friends)
The icy-cool melodies, the almost rigid up-and-down beats, the ethereal vocals--all of it takes me back. I was a pop kid in the 70s (my taste ran to Broadway musicals and movie scores, which probably explains a lot), but a move to New Mexico in 1982 changed all that. Among the first pop songs I fell in love with was "Don't You Want Me."

It's a great song, but the album is something else altogether. Experimental electronic pop was all the rage in Europe, but it hadn't landed on these shores with much fanfare. Dare changed that. I don't think Justin Randel is old enough to have experienced this the same way I did (Indeed, the other obvious touch point here is Beck, which might well have served as his intro to these sounds), but he's playing in the same pool nonetheless.

Does he advance the ideals stipulated by his influences? I don't hear much of that. Randel seems to have found a sound that works for his needs, and he sure knows how to knock it out of the park.

So if you're looking for something completely fresh and new, Reaches is not your bag. However, if you are in the market for some stellar electronic pop that doesn't pander, this should serve nicely.

Jon Worley

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