Album: Todd Rundgren

Liars, Sanctuary
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The Independent Culture

Todd Rundgren sometimes seems to be operating on a different timescale to the rest of us; a technological wizard who's pioneered all manner of audio-visual devices and methods, from microwave radio broadcasts to music videos, to videodiscs, to computer graphics, to the No World Order interactive album and tour that he presented in the early Nineties. Indeed, it sometimes seemed as if he spent more time on the technology than he did on the music, a situation remedied with Liars, his first new album in more than a decade, and his best since his Seventies heyday. A concept album about the "paucity of truth", it takes pops at political liars, religious deceivers, self-deluding lovers, and, in a neat piece of inclusive self-deprecation, people who think they're smarter than the average knuckle-dragging moron. "It's easy to be smart, but it's a struggle to be wise," he observes, in possibly the wisest lyric of the year. Elsewhere, the fake pimps of R&B are criticised in "Soul Brother" over an organ groove that's far more soulful than they deserve, while "Future" reflects on how fanciful utopian notions of the future always lead to disappointment. The lush retro-nuevo pop-soul arrangements are sometimes a bit too top-heavy with keyboards for their own good, but Todd's vocal harmonies are faultless, and his way with a melody as winning as ever.