Friday, April 25, 2008

Utopia - Utopia - 1982


Utopia followed Swing to the Right, their first album for Elektra subsidiary Network, a mere six months after, dubbing the new album Utopia. Presumably, an eponymous release signaled a new beginning for the group, which is true to a certain extent. Utopia finally became a true collective here, with each member's contributions sounding remarkably similar, in performance and composition. Very few tunes bear an unmistakable Rundgren stamp, and even when they do, it's been processed into a signature Utopia sound — the first time they could truly be said to have a sound of their own. Strangely, this happens on an album where the group makes a self-conscious effort to sound contemporary, dressing in new wave gear for the cover shoot while molding the music after synthesized new wave pop. Granted, that quirkiness masks a fairly traditional set of Utopia arena pop, yet these songs wind up as the most consistent album in the group's catalog — which is saying a lot, considering that the album spreads over three sides. Utopia rarely sags in momentum, and even the weaker songs aren't far removed from the stronger material, highlighted by "Bad Little Actress," "Hammer in My Heart," "Princess of the Universe," and the excellent single "Feet Don't Fail Me Now." They had their moments before, but Utopia is where the band finally made a thoroughly enjoyable record; too bad they couldn't extend it through their final two records.-AMG

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