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Todd Rundgren - 'State' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/0f/0c/e3/todd-rundgren-state-30-1381781369.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 14, 2013    
 
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Not one of his best but there are easily enough good moments to make it worthwhile.

Some musicians are impossible to pigeonhole, not least singer, producer, writer and multi-instrumentalist Todd Rundgren, whose most recent output has included a white soul album, an arena rock record, a tribute to Robert Johnson and a quite startling re-imagining of some of his own most popular tunes. In keeping with his latest trait of eschewing the studio and recording everything on a laptop, usually whilst on tour, 'State' is another left-turn back in the direction of techno dance music, similar in parts to the sounds he pioneered on experimental albums like 'Healing', 'New World Order' and 'The Individualist'.

The disc starts promisingly enough with Rundgren's familiar synth doodlings and dark, dramatic chord changes heralding 'Imagination', an eight-minute epic with plenty of light and shade in its sparse verse and stirring chorus, with his unmistakable guitar solos providing the icing on the cake. The infectious pop melodies of 'Ping Me' and the quirky 'Serious' are also classic Rundgren tunes, whilst the musical theatre ballad 'Something For Nothing' could easily have come from the '2nd Wind' album.

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In some places, the techno synths are a little overbearing and swamp tunes that would maybe work better in a more conventional band format, with 'Party Liquor', the repetitious 'In My Mouth' and the disappointing 'Angry Bird' suffering more than most. On the other hand the excellent 'Smoke' definitely works in this format and the wordy 'Collide A Scope' is quite clever too, with the closing 'Sir Reality' being perhaps the best of the lot with its atmospheric arrangement, classy vocal melodies and the much overdue return of the electric guitar.

Todd has often been likened to a mad scientist, experimenting on his own with inconsistent results. I certainly wish he'd move away from drum and bass programming and go back to a more organic and full-bodied bottom end on his records. For the most part 'State' works well and has a light, enjoyable 'pop' vibe. It's not one of his best but there are easily enough good moments to make it worthwhile.

Phil Ashcroft

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