REVIEW: Todd Rundgren “Global”


toddrundgren-globalTodd Rundgren’s 25th studio album is being promoted as “a contemporary fusion of styles – rock, soul and electronica”, which sounds awfully enticing, but sadly, the record doesn’t live up to that promise. Rock elements are pretty hard to find, and any soul is kind of fleeting too.

Whenever I hear the expression “a mix of styles”, I fully expect a mix of instrumentation to go along with it, but the only real mix Global provides is a variety of electronic keyboard and synthesizer sounds. I know Rundgren is not a guitar-based artist, but would it have killed him to drop in some acoustic piano, especially on some of the quiet tracks?

In fact, the only guitars I heard at all were on the opening cut “Evrybody” (sic), an anthemic and playful piece of rock electronica I’m sure most people around here would enjoy:

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Evrybody can’t have a life of Riley

Evrybody can’t be a movie star

Evrybody can’t get a twerk from Miley

Evrybody here’d rather hit the bar

Because we’re all together again

After this promising beginning, the album doesn’t just veer into electronic dance music, it jumps right in, dancing shoes first. The lead single “Rise” at least provides some interesting and varied electronic textures, enough to sound like the best song Tears for Fears never recorded. How’s that for faint praise?

There are a couple of slower tracks to relieve the beat-weary, and this is where Rundgren’s soulfulness does shine through. “Blind” is a bluesy number with a little heat to it, revealing that Rundgren’s voice is still in fine form. The track features a great Bobby Strickland alto sax solo, serving to remind listeners of the human warmth that only acoustic instruments can convey.

This album was recorded as an afterthought, conceived during the sessions for Runnddans, an experimental electronic song suite recorded with Norwegian musicians Emil Nikolaisen and Hans-Peter Lindstrom. And it definitely has the feel of a thrown-together effort.

While many of the lyrics try to address the need for people of the world to come together, several of the songs simply don’t seem as if a whole lot of thought went into them. Here’s a whopper from the last track, a nice slow jam called ‘This Island Earth”:

They say there may well be a million other planets just like This Island Earth,

And a day will come when we will all travel in a state of rebirth,

Until you realize you’re so far away, so far away, light years away,

There is no other place in the universe like This Island Earth.

Earth to Todd: We gotta get you a writer.

Release Date: April 7, 2015

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