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Fun-time Charlie returns to form!,
This review is from: Rudebox (Audio CD)
Robbie is going to get plenty of stick for this album from his fans, and it's understandable too. It's a massive departure from his earlier work, which is almost certainly no accident, and people often find sudden changes of direction a bit difficult to stomach.
I'm one of them, trust me. When Radio first came out, I was dreading the day I would have to say my favourite entertainer was just not what he used to be, and I could see it wouldn't be far off. Then Intensive Care came out, and although it had some good tracks on it, there was far too much to suggest bland, bored, and losing the plot and the grip he held so firmly round British pop music.
So then I listened to this album and thought it was all over. But I've changed my mind, and this is why.
First of all, give the guy a break. He's been doing classic pop songs for the last 10 years since he left Take That. He should be allowed a bit of freedom to do what he wants and stretch his legs a bit, 45 million album sales earns you the right to do what you want as far as I'm concerned, and how many times do we see people flog themselves down the same old road, just constantly reminding us how good they used to be? That's what Intensive Care sounded like to me.
On this album, there are no apologies for the past, and no responsibility to it either. This is almost like Robbie's first album in the sense that it's so far removed from his other stuff, that there is no connection. Williams Mk I may have shut up shop at Knebworth, and this is the debut of Williams Mk II. And I think it's a good debut too.
Yeah, his rapping is a bit embarrassing, but don't you think he knows that already? And his delivery and style leaves him free to use more interesting images and a different style of lyric that allows for a fascinating glimpse of his past in the 80s and 90s. The opening lines of the 90s on their own make it ok for him to rap as far as I'm concerned-who can't relate to that?!
My criticism would be that it sounds like nobody was there to just say "work a bit harder on this Rob", and that some of the lyrics sound like a first draft. There are some great ones in there, which is a relief, since there weren't on his last one, but the album suffers from lazy song-writing, I think. A song like "Keep On" has the most relentless driving beat to it, coupled in with some slower pauses for breath in the chorus, a well-used Lily Allen moment and fantastic atmosphere. The words are a bit slack, but listening to it, and suddenly realising that this isn't Robbie Williams who sang Angels anymore, it dawns out that this might be some of his best work yet.
Good Doctor has me in stitches. Again, on first listening, it's rubbish-but it can't help but grow on you, the tongue is finally back in the cheek and it's charming and disarming and very very funny.
There are one or two truly duff songs on there, and there's no way they should have put it out with 17 tracks on, I think 12 would have sufficed, but if you can sit through Robbie's touching rendition of "Louise" and not secretly think to yourself that this could be his crowning moment as a performer and a story teller, you maybe shouldn't be buying his stuff anyway.
Not his best-but a new dawn, a new day, a new life for him-and he's feeling good.