Saturday, November 13, 2010
Utopia - S/T (1982)
Todd Rundgren is a genuine pop genius who needs no introduction, and this power pop/New Wave extravaganza album from his former prog. band is more than evident of that blazing talent that made him a household name ten years prior with Something/Anything?, though this music owes just as much to punk and groups like XTC as it does to The Kinks and Big Star. It doesn't hurt that the songs are catchier than stupidity either!
Crunchy yet whimsical, Rundgren's Utopia guides the listener through fifteen toe-tappin' shades of craft, with every cut balancing the other without falling flat on its face. Some work bloody well as singles, like the 60's inflected 'Feet Don't Fail Me Now' or the tongue-in-cheek anthemizing of 'Burn Three Times'. Sheer brilliance is broken, however, by album centerpiece 'Hammer In My Heart', which easily proves to not only be the record's knockout punch, but one of the best New Wave songs I've ever had the pleasure of owning. Every song here's a keeper though, so my picks aside I'm certain there's something to like for everyone!
On the whole, I find it strange that this album was forgotten not long after it hit shelves: it's easily among the strongest paring ups of 70's rock melodicism and New Wave energy from the first half of the 80's, not too unlike a more upbeat Smiths who thought The Association was cooler than Joy Division. Or something along those lines anyway. You all decide!
Listen Here - "Hammer In My Heart"