- Robbie Williams *
_Take the Crown _
REVIEW *SIMON COLLINS *
Now 38, a father and on to another big-bucks major label deal, Robbie Williams finds himself defending a throne no one's particularly interested in these days. Nonetheless, after a brief reunion with his old mucky mucks Take That, the erstwhile British pop bad boy teams with producer Jacknife Lee for a bright and shiny pop album that puts further distance between him and 2006's stinker Rudebox.
The sax intro of opener Be A Boy picks up where M83's Midnight City left off, ushering in the effervescent first half with the 80s-flavoured guilty pleasures Gospel (featuring American singer Lissie) and S on the Radio. Chart-topping single Candy is a sticky sweet and totally addictive co-write with Take That's Gary Barlow, one of two on here.
The retro sound built with big synths and clean guitars matches the nostalgic themes on the first handful of tracks, before Williams returns to unremarkable pop balladry, with the Chemical Brothers-meets-Plastic Bertrand of Hey Wow Yeah Yeah a fun or stupid diversion depending on your level of sympathy. The best of the second half is Hunting for You, a clever confessional a la Come Undone, while Into the Silence is simultaneously bland and overblown. Still, Take the Crown keeps Williams on top of the old-school UK pop pile.