Release Date: Nov 5, 2012
Record label: Universal Music Group
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Dance-Rock
Robbie Williams' ninth solo album arrives in a blaze of bullishness. Everything about it screams "comeback": from its title to the lyrics of its opening track ("they said … the magic was leaving me – I don't think so") to its advance publicity. "Take the Crown is the big, brash, confident Robbie Williams pop record that his fans have been longing for," offered one preview approvingly quoted on the singer's website.
Robbie Williams may not be the most humble man in the world, but boy does he know he’s been beaten. Following his acrimonious departure from the U.K.‘s ultimate ‘90s boy band Take That, it didn’t take long for Robbie Williams to establish himself as Europe’s definitive pop star: smarmy, funny and charming all at once. He started piling on solo hits with ease, backing up his surprisingly average voice with a stadium-sized personality, charting everywhere in the world except for America, which was given one last big push in 2002 with his hum-ho effort Escapology and its lead single, “Feel”.
Robbie Williams' self-described busman's holiday with Take That during 2010 may have put a hold on his solo career, but it also rejuvenated his creative instincts. When he returned to the studio without Barlow & co. (actually, Gary helped write and produce here), he decided to focus on what he does best: commercial pop music. This is pop music the way he used to create it in the '90s and 2000s, with songs either silly or serious, but always self-referential and knowing.
With its cheeky non sequiturs and buoyant sing-along melody, “Candy,” the lead single from Take the Crown, suggested that Robbie Williams had returned to the kind of ingratiating pop music that made him one of the world’s biggest music acts. Williams is at his best when he lets his natural roguishness seep into his pop songs, and there’s no mistaking the smirk in his performance on “Candy,” his best single since “Rock DJ. ” Unfortunately, the single isn’t indicative of the overall direction Williams takes on Take the Crown, which lapses into the same grandiose self-help talk and too-slick production that’s marred his recent albums.
"They said it was leaving me, the magic was leaving me: I don't think so," reckons Robbie Williams on Be a Boy, the opening salvo of his latest album – one that many will label a comeback. Given that Williams has sold out a run of three shows at London's O2 Arena this month in less than an hour, it's safe to say that the glitter of Take That's record-breaking second reunion has stuck to the clown prince of British pop. If you cup your hand to your ear, the multi-tracked sigh of relief is audible all the way from LA.
This ninth album finds Robbie sounding rather too serious, rather too often. Tom Hocknell 2012 It could be argued that Robbie Williams’ star had waned before his reunion with Take That; making the appropriation of his Rudebox template for the boys-to-men-band’s successful return with Progress somewhat ironic. But Take the Crown, Robbie’s first solo set since 2009’s Reality Killed the Video Star, aims to reclaim his position as one of pop’s foremost solo artists.