Review by The Dragonfly Sean M. (Switch to

Oblivion was Utopia's first record without label support. Using in-house promotion and a distribution deal with Passport records, Oblivion was a fairly successful release with a billboard hit for the song "Too Much Water" and a mini sci-fi themed video of the song "Crybaby" was filmed. The album was produced in the current style of the early 80s, new wave, with synths and electronics taking a more pivotal roll than on previous albums and was mixed accordingly with a trebly compressed sound. Of the later era Utopia albums, this one flows the best, nicely from song to song, with a perfect balance of fast, medium and ballad tempos keeping the album riveting and enjoyable from the first note to the final end cap ballad. All four members sing lead vocals and the album has many beautiful harmony vocal passages. "Itch in My Brain," sung by Rundgren, starts the album off on a strong punk-pop note, a driving beat, catchy hook and hard hitting finger popping bass work from bassist Kasim Sulton. "Love With a Thinker" is a keyboard driven mid-tempo pop song about the hang-ups a man has with loving a smarter woman: "What does she think of me?" "If I Didn't Try" and "Maybe I Could Change" are enjoyable ballads of the classic Rundgren variety, short enough that they don't get ponderous or portentous. "Too Much Water" is an engineered certifiable hit with its new wave beat, synth bass lines, electronic drum breaks and repetitive sing-along fragment lyrics: "Too much water, too much water, too much water under the bridge." Side two of the album flies by almost too fast, with one strong composition following another. "Crybaby," "Welcome to my Revolution," "Winston Smith Takes it On The Jaw" and "I Will Wait" all flow effortlessly together. "Crybaby" is simple brilliance and, in my opinion, should have been the big hit from the album. Starting with a simple two chord riff of the Stevie Nicks "Dreams" variety, it develops into a plaintive pop song with a clever vocal delivery and climatic refrain hook. The accompanying video of a post-apocalyptic Utopia dome's citizens deciding the fate of the ex-US president who waits his fate, slowly dying on the other side of the glass, is fascinating and an unexpected interpretation of the lyrical context of the song. "Welcome to My Revolution" is sung by drummer Willie Wilcox and is a dark look at the schizophrenia and violence of modern society. Wilcox gives his best vocal performance here, screaming powerfully as he never has on any previous Utopia album. The song is fast and urgent, reflecting the lyrics. "Winston Smith" is a literal song translation of Orwell's anti-Utopian world of "1984." It is a nice poppy tune, though the lyrics really aren't much else other than a list of phrases lifted from Orwell's book. "I Will Wait" caps the album, bringing the energy level back to Earth with a short but beautiful ballad that, discounting the new wave production, would fit perfectly along side any of the "Something/Anything" ballads. With beautiful inverted chord progressions and a logical structure leading to the final refrain of "I will wait forever..." this song ends the album perfectly.

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