Robbie returns with his ninth studio album, Take the Crown; his latest effort to bring him back into the charts as a solo artist, and show he’s still got it. Robbie’s personality is written all over this album, the title itself and the cover art of a golden sculpture of his head more than succeeds in portraying his self-respect and confidence. Of course, this is one of the qualities loved about Robbie and I had to smile all the more when I read the titles of the songs which demonstrate his maturity; ‘Candy’, ‘Be a Boy’, ‘Shit on the Radio’ and ‘Hey Wow Yeah Yeah’ were some of my favourites.
The album opens with ‘Candy’, which has recently become Robbie’s first number one in the UK since ‘Radio’ (2004). This hit, however, does not sound like the usual Robbie; it is introduced by brass instruments, it’s upbeat, and is lacking his usual aggression, more like Olly Murs than anything. This difference may be due to Gary Barlow having a hand in creating this song, perhaps taming Robbie into this old man singing about a vain girl (ironic much!).
The album then moves on to ‘Be a Boy’ which begins beautifully with a saxophone solo and is followed by chanting which is very similar to Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’. Again Robbie’s traditional, truculent musical style is subdued creating this unusually tamed song in which he argues that he’s still young at heart and that his age has not affected his music career (if he says so!). This song is catchy, however, and has been composed brilliantly, making me want to agree to whatever he says so long as this quality of music continues.
As the name promises, the next track, ‘Shit on the Radio’, contrastingly delivers a piece of classic Robbie; the use of the electric guitar, drums and keyboard brought me back to the days of ‘Let Me Entertain You’ and ‘Rock DJ’. His range is shown off, some of which impressed me as I never knew he could hit such notes. The only downfall was that the chorus has identical chanting to that of ‘Be a Boy’; it works as a part of the song, I was just a little annoyed that the two tracks been placed right next to one another with this similarity.
The album’s standard drops on the song ‘Into The Silence’, which has a much slower, boring pace than the others. This is not my main complaint though, the problem is one particular note during this track which Robbie just does not reach. As a result, my house mate winced and I almost spilt my cup of tea (damn it Robbie!), so I was fairly disappointed. Following this ‘Hey Wow Yeah Yeah’ utterly destroys the standard, with lyrics suggesting Robbie could not be bothered to think of any. His voice is distorted and the track is more noise than music. Thankfully the final track ‘Eight Letters’ saves Robbie’s album; it is beautifully written using a piano and strings, and gives him the needed romantic and emotional song.
All in all, this album begins amazingly, throwing hits one after the other and showing styles of music Robbie is not usually related with. Despite the great start and finish, however, he needs to work on his consistency. Not bad for an old boy though and it’s worth a listen!