proved that Todd Rundgren
could write a pop classic as gracefully as any of his peers, but buried beneath the surface were signs that he would never be satisfied as merely a pop singer/songwriter. A close listen to the album reveals the eccentricities and restless spirit that surges to the forefront on its follow-up, A Wizard, A True Star
. Anyone expecting the third record of Something/Anything?
, filled with variations on "I Saw the Light" and "Hello It's Me," will be shocked by A Wizard
. As much a mind-f*ck as an album, A Wizard, A True Star
rarely breaks down to full-fledged songs, especially on the first side, where songs and melodies float in and out of a hazy post-psychedelic mist. Stylistically, there may not be much new -- he touched on so many different bases on Something/Anything?
that it's hard to expand to new territory -- but it's all synthesized and assembled in fresh, strange ways. Often, it's a jarring, disturbing listen, especially since Rundgren
's humor has turned bizarre and insular. It truly takes a concerted effort on the part of the listener to unravel the record, since Rundgren
makes no concessions -- not only does the soul medley jerk in unpredictable ways, but the anthemic closer, "Just One Victory," is layered with so many overdubs that it's hard to hear its moving melody unless you pay attention. And that's the key to understanding A Wizard, A True Star
-- it's one of those rare rock albums that demands full attention and, depending on your own vantage, it may even reward such close listening.