Many of Todd Rundgren's adventures in the new millennium were marked by restless flitting about from one idea to the next, but Global finds him more or less adopting the groove he started on 2013's State. Certainly, the one-word title picks up the thread of State, expanding his outlook from the nation to the world at large, and there's an undeniable undercurrent of social protest, or at least discontent, flowing underneath Global. Musing about life on "This Island Earth," Rundgren posits that if "we don't rise, we will fall," one of many vague calls to arms peppered throughout the record. This being Todd, the good intentions are often inextricable from the silliness, reaching some kind of fever pitch on "Earth Mother," where he shouts out to his sisters without ever quite realizing that his call for "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" could be seen as vaguely condescending. Then again, one of the great pleasures of Rundgren is how he'll camouflage his message in sheer absurdity. He doesn't attempt to hide this goofiness on Global, not when it opens with a "Bang on the Drum" update called "Ev'rybody," where he claims "everybody wants a twerk from Miley." This isn't the only time Todd conjures memories of The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect, either; large chunks of Global pulsate to a similar AOR spin on new wave, but he pushes these melodic tendencies through homemade tech filters and other modern accouterments, including a jape at EDM. Sometimes these stylish flirtations are done in jest, sometimes they're done stone-cold sober, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but that's what is compelling about Global: it's perched at a point between the past and the present, protest and satire, and that inscrutability is often where Rundgren does interesting work. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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