Todd Rundgren – State (Cherry Red Records)
CD / Deluxe CD / LP / DL
Years of experience and a mantlepiece groaning with accolades doesn’t mean Todd Rundgren has become complacent or stuck in a rut. Quite the opposite in fact as Dom Walsh discovers with latest album State.
State is Mr Rundgren’s 24th solo outing. Like many of his previous efforts, the album is littered with catchy hooks, modern sounds and excellent song writing.
After so many years in the music industry and with so many accolades against his name, Todd Rundgren is always striving to find new sounds and new ways to keep himself happy musically. In recent years, albums have included arena rock themes and electronica as well has lending his hand to remix for artist such as psych rockers Tame Impala and Norwegian dance artist Lindstrom.
As State begins, opening track, Imagination, sounds like it could have taken a slot on Pink Floyd’s Momentary Lapse of Reason. During the lengthy duration, Rundgren sings ‘I have no demands, I don’t have a plan to sell myself’; this sums up Rundgren’s attitude to the music. It’s music he enjoys making for himself and from the offset, this is an enjoyable album.
Serious has some serious NPG style synth bass on it, with a particularly catchy chorus and a voice box led solo.
In My Mouth continues in a minimalist electronic style. And if In My Mouth is quite minimal, Ping Me is the complete opposite. A wall of synthesisers are prevalent throughout.
One thing that Todd Rundgren hasn’t been afraid of during his storied career is to be completely ridiculous, so the tongue in cheek lyrics for Angry Birds are not surprising. Smoke is a full on dance onslaught. It’s evident that remixing tracks for people like Lindstrom has had an influence on Todd Rundgren. The pounding beat and snappy synth make for a quite excellently paced track which veers into trance-y territory. Collide-A-Scope has some excellent antonym like lyrics along some more frenetic sounding beats and looped sounds.
Something From Nothing is a change in pace from the frenetic and sometimes hard beats has a guest vocal in the form of Rachel Haden before Party Liquor again has the tempo blazing with another fast paced dance track that is again a little tongue in cheek for man who is nearly 65 years old. The calls to ‘put your hands in the air’ are set against a seemingly vociferous crowd that could entertain this track in the super clubs of the world.
The album finishes with Sir Reality, which is a seeming play on words to mean ‘surreality.’ The track is actually a calmer affair than the vast majority of the album. Consequently, this slower pace ends the album in excellent fashion.
State is an album that is plentiful in excitement. The electronic textures are deep and resounding throughout and the Rundgren’s distinctive vocal style is at the forefront of some excellent tracks. Something/Anything this is not, but State is definitely a forward thinking experiment that pays dividends for the legendary musician.
All words by Dom Walsh. You can read more from Dom on LTW here.