Having just scored their first big hits with Adventures in Utopia
inexplicably took a step into arcana with its follow-up, Deface the Music
. Foregoing the radio-ready style of Adventures, Utopia
delves deeply into Beatlemania, creating a swift, brutally funny and insanely catchy send-up of the Fab Four's entire career. Clearly, the high (nearly arty) concept makes Deface the Music
the first Utopia
album since Another Live
to sound like it is solely the work of Todd Rundgren
. The music is so savvy, it's clear that these songs are primarily the work of Todd, even if they're credited to Utopia
is able to write songs that evoke specific eras of the Beatles'
career and have them be funny without being a slave to parody. Like the Rutles
, this music works well on its own merits and, unlike the Rutles
is as credible with "Penny Lane" psychedelia ("Hoi Poloi") or "Eleanor Rigby" chamber-pop ("Life Goes On") as he is with Merseybeat ("I Just Want to Touch You," "Crystal Ball"). Unlike the Rutles
, it sounds like it was recorded in 1980, not the '60s, which intensifies the feeling that Deface the Music
is merely a curiosity or an exercise for Rundgren
, but since the entire thing is finished in just over a half hour, it feels more like a burst of cynical joy that is damn near impossible to resist.