"Warm and Cool"

Source: Alternative Press (April 1992)

by Dave Thompson

This is not a pretty record. This is an ugly record, and I don't know if we should take that as a good sign or not. With the Television reunion now more than idle rumor, it would be nice to think that here's one reformation which won't sully the past, and that our memories of "Marquee Moon" will be left intact. And having heard Warm and Cool, I certainly feel better about it than I would have two years ago, still trying to come to terms with The Wonder.

But the doubts are still there, and if Warm and Cool re-establishes parts of the old Television legend—their beauty under pressure, their refusal to crack under strain, it brings into question some others. We're not talking about any old rent-an-ax guitarist here, you know, we're talking about a man who reinvented the electrical guitar as a lethal weapon. And who kept on reinventing it, even after Television shattered and he was out on his own.

Too much of Warm and Cool restates what he did in the past. Listen carefully, and the ideas, if not the sounds, are not so much assault as gratuitous battery, and one wonders, is Verlaine simply clearing the air before the TV clicks on again? Or is this really a taste of what is to come?

Under normal circumstances, if my ears were not clogged by anticipation, I'd say Warm and Cool just sounds tired, and wait for his next set in the hope of redemption. But Verlaine, more than any other artist, can only truly be appreciated in the context of his work. The occasional weakness of Adventure became the earth-shattering strength of his solo debut; the angular strictures of Cover became the comforting structure of Flash Light, and so on. And remember, each of those albums sounded dodgy at first. This time around, we may not know what Verlaine's going to do next—but we do, at least, know its name. Keep that in mind, and this isn't so bad.