Reality Killed The Movie Star helped as did a Take That reunion, but the overwhelming feeling among most of his fans is that the man with an amazing voice and jiggly eyebrows is not quite there. Yet. Well, after hearing his latest album, we are happy to report that he is still on his way back.
The sense of theatre, which at times morphs him into a slimmer avatar of Meatloaf, seems to be returning and it is accompanied by a new-found production tightness — Take the Crown is an eleven-track, 43 minute affair. There are definite rock overtones in the album, more than we have seen in the past.
Gospel starts off sounding like Queen’s Under Pressure but moves on to a more peppy beat, S***t On The Radio brings out the sneer in his voice in a number that is more rock than dance floor, Hunting for You has a Coldplay-like echoing rock-chant feel to it, and the swagger comes out in all its pomp in All That I Want, which has more than a shade of U2 in it (think of Where The Streets Have No Name’s guitars).
Honestly, we found the chart-topping Candy a little mainstream and predictable in comparison, although it is peppy enough, as is the very dance floor friendly Hey Wow Yeah Yeah. But you get a real sense of what the man is about in Losers, an almost folksy-country number which he sings alongside Lissie.
It is vintage Robbie with a vengeance, that amazing voice rising and dipping like a falcon in flight, singing lines like, ‘There will always be someone better than you / Even if you’re the best /So let’s stop the competition now / Or we will both be losers.” It highlights the man’s biggest strength — his ability to lend a sense of sheer drama to a routine number. We just wish there had been more of it in the album. If there had, the crown would have been well and truly his. As of now, he is not quite there yet. But is well en route.