Over the last 25 or 30 years, no one has fit so nicely under the “progressive”
label like Todd Rundgren. Some might call him a musical genius, and he’s one of
those artists that has a distinctive voice and structures his music in a way
that always comes across as poppy yet sophisticated. Liars is Rundgren’s
first studio album in several years, and while it is keyboard- and electronica-driven,
there are flashes of guitar brilliance as well. Then there is the concept, which
Rundgren says is based on the lies that are so ingrained into our everyday lives
that we wind up accepting them.
The opening track, “Truth,” could easily find its way onto the turntable at a
posh dance club, and “Sweet” has a soulful groove and layers of backing vocals
that have become a trademark of Todd’s best songs, such as “Can We Still Be
Friends?” and “Hello It’s Me.” “Happy Anniversary” is pure satire, with its
playful refrain of “Men are stupid.” Songs like “Future” and “Living” are
entrenched in electronic textures and beats, and then there are gems like “Past”
that could find a home on one of those smooth jazz stations while staying true
to the message Rundgren intended to get across.
While there are a few times that Liars drags musically with songs that
are a tad too long, I can’t say many bad things about Rundgren’s music as a
whole. The production quality is amazing, nothing short of what we’ve come to
expect from him. But the real beauty of Rundgren is the way he tells stories and
weaves timeless music and melodies around them. No matter what type of package
he presents it in, it’s Todd, and it’s always good.