Sound: After the critical mauling of previous album "Rudebox", Robbie Williams took a break from the limelight. Whilst his former band Take That made the comeback of the centuary, Robbie was back in rehab facing the same old demons. With the release of new, Trevor Horn-produced "Reality Killed the Video Star", the question on everyones lips was whether he could return to form and become relevant again.
The album seems to strike the balance between mellow and uptempo songs. Songs like "Morning sun" and Unchained melody rip-off "You know me" may not win prizes for originality, but do cry out for airplay, whilst "Do you mind" is a commercial rocker, the only very guitar-driven track on the album and also one of the most immediatly catchy, if a little lightweight. The album boasts Beatles-esque melodies that are very British, and the classy arrangements add to the retro, "Sgt. Peppers...", Burt Bacharach kind of feel. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrically, the album can be quite corny and crudely expressed, but it feels silly to even point this out as this is a Robbie Williams album and his fans have come to expect this songwriting style. On "Deceptacon", a song that is supposed to be tender and melancholic, he says "microwabe yourself today" and other non-sensical metaphors. "Starstruck" takes on the overdone theme of celebrity, although it is one of the most interesting tracks musically. The lyrics consistently fall short of anthemic, over instrumentals that deserve alot better. His vocals, whilst not bad, also fail to inject much individuality or spark into the record. // 5
Overall Impression: The album is definetly a reaction to the failings of "Rudebox". Whilst there is some eccentricity and electro-experimentation on "Last Days Of Disco" and, more impressively, "Difficult for weirdos" and single "Bodies", it is largely a return to straight pop and ballads, which most of his fanbase will be glad about. Whether Williams himself is glad about this is a different matter. Having made the album he wanted to make ("Rudebox") to a stunningly negative response, the feeling is that he has conformed, and the result is an album that mostly lacks personality. His cheeky-chappy persona is such a pop cliche that ironically the more he employs it, the less quirky the album bcomes. Although it is a very accessible, listenable record it is more lukewarm than hot, mostly because the artist himself is struggling for a memorable identity. // 7