In Your Own Time
finds Mark Owen reinventing himself as a serious singer-songwriter, albeit a singer-songwriter firmly rooted in exuberantly youthful pop. The opening "Four Minute Warning" is a clear statement of intent. A monstrously catchy four-part narrative counting down over exactly four minutes, it's clearly intended to both entertain and bring a keen awareness of the remorseless passage of time. Not exactly boy-band stuff, then.
The rest of the album continues in much the same vein. Each track is meticulously well-crafted around an insidious sing-a-long chorus, but there's usually some kind of twist. References to Blondie and the Smiths are tossed into the pot while, lyrically, Owen messes with love-song clichés, often presenting himself as a willing victim in one-way relationships. There are some interesting collaborations, too. "Turn the Light On" and "If You Weren't Leaving Me" see him reunited with Take That chum Gary Barlow and producing urgent power-pop, while the closing "My Life", a rush of colliding melodies, features Ian McCulloch on guitar. Owen has said this feels like a debut and as such it's a reasonable effort. Former fans of Take That will be pleased their hero has managed to mature yet still retain his boyish charm. --Dominic Wills