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Todd Rundgren: State

A set of new songs with an old-school sheen.

Todd Rundgren’s last visit to the UK, in 2011, found him in nostalgic mood, delivering greatest hits sets that flew in the face of his most recent and, for many long-time fans, inaccessible albums. State picks up where those live shows left off, with Rundgren nodding confidently to the past on his most pleasing collection of songs since the turn of the century.

The album is a bubbling stew of influences and references. Serious dabbles in the same dirty funk as early Prince, albeit with a cacophonous guitar break lifted straight from Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic, while the plaintive vocal on Smoke sounds like Andy Partridge on Skylarking, the 1986 XTC album Rundgren produced.

Todd’s clearly not ready to relinquish his ‘maverick’ credentials, and there’s still a rich seam of experimentation, but with more palatable results than has often been the case. The raucous Party Liquor displays the same sly wit as Bang The Drum All Day, while Collide-O-Scope gives the prog-like Utopia template a shiny pop makeover.

The standout, Something From Nothing, reacquaints the listener with Todd the tender balladeer – it’s one of his most straightforward and affecting love songs since the 70s days of I Saw The Light and Hello It’s Me.