CD Review: Todd Rundgren – State

CD Review: Todd Rundgren – State
MVD Audio/Esoteric Antenna/Cherry Red Records
All Access Rating: C+

Todd Rundgren - State 2013
With mirrored ski goggles on, making him look like a somewhat cracked amateur scientist from the ‘80s, Todd Rundgren returns to the laboratory – or home studio in this case – for more colorful experiments in electronic-pop sound collages on State, his 24th album. 

The protective eyewear he sports on the cover of State is necessary, given the UV radiance flooding from Rundgren’s synthesizers, instruments he buried under the expansive, guitar-based crunch and sharp, giant hooks of 2008’s infectious rock contagion Arena, an underappreciated collection of big-sounding, solid hard-rock bombshells that only served to cement his reputation as a sublimely talented pop innovator.

State is something altogether different. This is the Todd Rundgren of art-rock stylists Utopia, not the lovable, dog-eared Todd Rundgren of The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect. Whimsical and playful, even ridiculously absurd at times, as the silly, squelching, plasticized ‘80s funk of “Angry Bird” so ineffectively illustrates, State is a head-scratcher. Equally capable of delivering moments of pure, transcendent electro-pop ecstasy on “Smoke” – with its muted popcorn beats and blooming keyboards – and “Ping Me” that rival his production work on XTC’s Skylarking and succumbing to utter stagnancy, as it does on the plodding, heavy-lidded “Imagination,” State feels as if it was carelessly thrown together in a rather dated and complacent DIY fashion, especially with regard to its surprisingly uninspired vocal melodies.

And yet, just when it seems that State ought to be written off as an ill-conceived lark, the bright, candy-coated future-shock funk of “Serious” hits the dance floor with a hard, robotic strut, as does the bouncing “Party Liquor,” and State, however briefly, suddenly comes alive with excitement and energy. Too often, though, State seems too laid-back and too dependent on its many textures and moods to create interest, at the expensive of real song craft. At least momentarily, this wizard has lost some of his magic.

-        –  Peter Lindblad


  1. AnonymousMay 27, 2013

    I disagree. State is very good. It just happens to be different from whatever he had aldready done to these days, composition wise ( Collide, Ping or even imagination ).

  2. "At least momentarily, this wizard has lost some of his magic."

    I don't think so. State just requires a few repeated listenings before it statrs to sink into your mind.

  3. Not my favorite album, but similar to Liars, it grew on me after seeing the Philly show.

    Having one or two tracks of "ear candy" would have helped the album a lot.