Let’s make it clear, there’s a lot of buzz around Robbie Williams and his new album “Take the Crown”. You liked “Intensive Care” and some tunes of “Rudebox“? Then “Take the Crown” is for you. You’re looking for the next “Feel” or the next “Angel”? Pass your way nothing new in this disc. It’s always difficult for a pop artist to bring something new after years of success and #1 hits that everyone has memorized. That’s why I have mixed feelings about this new album. But let’s analyze it step by step or better said track by track…

Whereas “Reality Killed the Videostars” included typical Brit-pop ballads with touches of silken piano notes and warm violins, “Take the Crown” gives me the impression of a heteroclite album going in several directions or styles without following one precisely, picking up the best of each pop music ingredient and mixing these into pop-soup-tracks. Is the album so bad? No, it’s different but following the clear trend of recording a pure pop-ready to be radio-broadcasted album.

Be a boy: First track and we directly feel the Take That – touch. The little electro passage reminds me of “The 90s – 80s” from the “Rudebox” album. The “oh-yeah-oh” passage gives a little Coldplay-touch. To sum up, “Be a Boy” is a very basic song which could have been sung by any other boy-band leader; nothing very special.

Gospel: Let me be clear: the best part of the song is the second part. Cool rock passage with a lot of chorus. Gospel could have been sung by any teeny star (like Miley Cyrus) with this typical cheerleader shouting passage.

Candy: Really a pure pop song with: this song is perhaps one of the best of the whole album: catchy sample with a very easy to memorize chorus. And the videoclip is really cool.

Different: A small remix of “No Regrets”. Some parts of “Different” are sounding like the Italian duo Al Bano and Romina Power (www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0ixOU7SJfg). As mentioned before, some samples or single notes are obviously too much inspired from past pop smash hits… But who cares nowadays?

Shit on the radio: The message is kind of ambiguous… Nelly Furtado sung about the same topic in her first album “Whoa Nelly!” Not really clear what Robbie tried to tell us. By the end of the track you will hear Robbie re-singing Candy. Let’s hope it is auto derision but it’s definitely not the best song of the album.

Hunting for you: Yes this track is powerful but the second part of the song really sounds too much like the smash hit “Young Blood” by Naked And Famous (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YuSg4mts9E). Hum… It’s obvious that this tracked must have inspired this song.

All that I want: Take “Lovelight” mix it with “Advertising Space” and place the whole in a Pet Shop Boys blender and here you have “All That I Want”!… and there’s this catchy sample that resembles to the Top Gear’s intro music! Not bad…

Not like the others: This track has an intro à la Coldplay: a very pure Brit-rock song really pleasant to listen to.

Losers: Ouch… this is a mix of a Bon Jovi-esque duo with an awful sounding Robbie. This duo with singer Jessie might raise some emotions, but the song is overplayed and truly not really well sung. Ok it’s a reconciliation song but sorry this is not the typical Robbie voice we are used to listen to. Does he need some Strepsils for his throat?

Hey Wow Yeah Yeah:  Yes! This is the perfect crazy non-sense rock’n’roll song. This track is a subtle melange of “A bad touch” by Franz Ferdinand and “Take me Out” and a slight touch of OK Go. The second part of the song is a Gwen Stefani-esque tune (do you remember What you waiting for? – the sample is the same). Would make a tremendous intro music for a FIFA game (do you remember “Jesus in Camper Van“)?

Reverse: Hurray some ethereal songs with heaven’s trumpet and a pure Brit-pop song. That’s a pure Robbie song. Definitely a really good song that fits in the pure Robbie Williams style.

Eight letters: Do you remember “Three Words” by Cheryl Cole feat Will I Am (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA23b4Dptas)? Do the same arithmetic you will get this romantic track but the song is so basic, giving you the feeling that Robbie is training his voice in his dress room while playing some chords on his Steinway piano. A little bit too basic, the emotions are not there.

And Robbie, where is the hidden track??? Yep this little Easter egg is also missing…

Conclusion

Something has changed, this album is not bad but there are too much rock and pop passages that gives you sometimes the strange feeling you are listing to intros of a Coldplay album or Brit-rock group. There is no intrinsic research for something new – like he did it in the pre-Guetta era with “Rudebox” – but rather the will to produce an album that would match current music trends, to some extend to stay mainstream instead of innovating a little bit. There is no real research neither in the lyrics nor in the music style. I had the feeling that each ingredient of the tracks was grabbed from popular melodies leaving me the feeling to repeatedly ask myself “Gosh from which famous song this sample was inspired from?”. And that is not a good sign or better said, it’s a sign of a sad attempt to match tidily the current pop culture. The last time I had this feeling was when I was listening to the latest albums of Lady Gaga and Madonna. Perhaps the fact that Guy Chambers – responsible in the past decades for almost all of these typical Robbie-romantico- ballads – hasn’t participated to the production of this album might be an explanation. Perhaps the Garry Barlow touch was too present in this album give the impression that Robbie has produced an album at the frontier between Take That and easy listening Brit-rock combined with some romantic ballads – coz people are always waiting for a new “Angel” and this is an fan-expectation that will stick to Robbie till the end. Not a completely bad album, but not Robbie’s best that’s why I will give it only 3 stars. Note for the geeks among us: The cover art of “Take the crown” reminds me of the first attempts made by the hacker community to get a 3D point cloud out of the Kinect… that was in November 2010 😉

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