There's always a buzz surrounding young performers who can do more than just make it through other people's songs. But in the case of World So Bright, any hype about Adam Schmitt being precocious was certainly warranted. Barely out of his twenties, the Illinois singer/songwriter showed astounding command on his major-label debut, playing most of the instruments (with occasional assists from drummer Kenny Aronoff and violinist Lisa Germano, best known for their work with John Cougar Mellencamp), singing most of the harmonies, and including at least half a dozen power pop treasures among the album's 12 cuts. The title track and "Garden of Love" soar with delectable vocal arrangements, while "Dead End," "Can't Get You on My Mind," and "My Killer" have the candy crunch of classic Cheap Trick. Things are less impressive when the amps get cranked too high ("River Black"), but fortunately that's not a frequent mistake, and one that's more than redeemed by songs like the wistful, touching ballad "Elizabeth Einstein." It all seemed to point the way to mainstream success; that it didn't work out that way was one of the most unfortunate musical developments of the '90s, mirroring the career of the similarly brilliant and underexposed Tommy Keene, with whom Schmitt has since worked. -AMG
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