(Planet Me)
Monday, November 19, 2012

Imagine being Robbie Williams. Sure, you're richer than God, but the thing you really want – enormous world-crushing success – has been and gone. Once you get to Knebworth, you can't go further. As a result, every Robbie record in the past few years has been a combination of several factors : a slight lack of confidence, a slight desire for acceptable, and a slight move to a slightly more adventurous world. “Take The Crown”is no deviation.

It's a good record. But Robbie will never again capture the public heart the way he did between late 1997 and 2003. What we are seeing now is slow, but gradual, managed decline from stadium domination to a steady solo career which – in all probability – will fade to a cultural irrelevance where he becomes King Of Mum Rock.

There's the big, soaring vocal lines that have been stolen from the Coldplay choruses, the string & keyboard sweeps that recall both the naffest of 80's stadium pop, and there's something – in the stuttering, sax-heavy “Candy” - that recalls both a kids jingle and a pop song you should have known for the past 1,000 years. The opening duo are strong songs, and after that, things start to take a slide into the average.

But there's a sense that, perhaps, Robbie is placing himself in a box and enjoying it. Is this really what he wants to say and do? And aside from a song called “Shit On The Radio”, which is as bland musically as a Huey Lewis & The News hit, its a fraction as amazing as it wants to be. Another good Robbie Williams record, but is good, good enough? Of course not. What Robbie Williams needs to be is great again.

Take The Crown” is not a bad record : it's not a good one either, but an average, somewhat unexceptional collection of songs, the type that reminds of a late period Phil Collins record from around 1990 where you start to run out of things to say, you start to do this just as a job, where the fire starts to dim. With the cynical reunion with Take That to 'boost profile', the questions are Where Next? and Who Cares?

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