Release Date: Apr 7, 2015
Record label: Esoteric Antenna
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock, Hard Rock, Art Rock
Many of Todd Rundgren's adventures in the new millennium were marked by restless flitting about from one idea to the next, but Global finds him more or less adopting the groove he started on 2013's State. Certainly, the one-word title picks up the thread of State, expanding his outlook from the nation to the world at large, and there's an undeniable undercurrent of social protest, or at least discontent, flowing underneath Global. Musing about life on "This Island Earth," Rundgren posits that if "we don't rise, we will fall," one of many vague calls to arms peppered throughout the record.
Todd Rundgren is a master of disposable pop; one suspects even he has no idea which of his songs will endure – just churns out what’s on his mind and lets the market decide. He’s at his best when following a whim, rather than creating something worthy. And while its predecessor, State, suggested The Runt’s age (mid-60s) was catching up with him, Global – his 25th solo album – sees him back in kid-in-a-sweetshop mode.
Cult figures are something of a prevalent currency in music presently: they continually serve as reference points for many a buzz-y band to prove their vinyl crate-digging credentials, they have a disproportionately-strong following in such far-flung places as Japan and South Africa (think Anvil or Rodriguez), and they continually release album after album after album without ever really setting the world on fire. One such cult figure is Todd Rundgren: a veteran of 25 solo albums spanning 45 years – he also recorded 11 albums with his bands The Nazz and Utopia - the Pennsylvanian-turned-Hawaiian resident certainly knows his way around a studio. As well as producing for the likes of the New York Dolls, Hall & Oates and Patti Smith at their peaks, he was the man who twiddled the knobs for Meat Loaf’s iconic Bat Out of Hell, which, presumably, has kept Rundgren’s bank balance healthy these past 30-odd years.
After a spate of recent releases that provided forays into cosmic cacophony, fearsome blues and radically redefined versions of the seminal songs he produced for others, creative chameleon Todd Rundgren offers an assertive follow-up that finds him back in familiar terrain. Suffice it to say, it makes for a fortunate state of affairs. State, his last album, was more experimental than accessible, always a risk given his eclectic ambitions.