Oops! Wrong Planet
wrote the blueprint for Utopia
Mach II, but the group didn't deliver the polished, radio-ready follow-up Adventures in Utopia
until two and a half years had elapsed. Granted, leader Todd Rundgren
kept busy in the interim, but it was an abnormally long time between records. As it turns out, the wait didn't matter, since Utopia
delivered a record that was quintessentially 1980 -- a shiny, buffed album every bit as pop as The Hermit of Mink Hollow
, but considerably less introspective and altogether ready for action. It's a bid for the big seats, and Utopia
, surprisingly, achieved their goals, as the record climbed into the Top 40 and spawned a hit single with "Set Me Free," a song sung by Kasim Sulton
. That fact alone indicates that Adventures
is the closest Utopia
had yet come to its band ideal. It's no surprise that Todd Rundgren
still dominates the proceedings, but his presence is not omnipresent, which is to the benefit of the album. Like its predecessor, Adventures
is consistent but a little bland, but the shiny pop surfaces are more appealing than the arena rock bluster of Oops!
, which makes the fact that it has about the same number of memorable songs -- "You Make Me Crazy," "Second Nature," "Set Me Free," and "The Very Last Time" (again, all top-loaded) -- not quite as noticeable. It keeps things moving as the record is playing, and if the album as a whole isn't entirely memorable, at least the half that does take hold still sounds as if it was state-of-the-art pop/rock for 1980.