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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Track-by-Track: Robbie Williams - Reality Killed The Video Star

I liked Robbie Williams' last "experimental" electro album, Rudebox, though I've found that it hasn't aged particularly well. The thing is, it doesn't feel like he's really been away long enough for a "comeback," though if any album could be considered as such, it's Reality Killed the Video Star.

1. Morning Sun - A gentle--but quite beautiful--opening to the record, this was supposedly written in the aftermath of Michael Jackson's death. It's reprised at the end of the album as well. Not sure if it's one of the strongest tracks, or one that sticks out amongst his back catalogue, but it's still gorgeous. 8/10

2. Bodies - The big "comeback" single, this was a total grower for me. It meshes the more experimental aspects of his newer work with the more anthematic, melodic songwriting of his past. The strings in this are particularly stirring. It compares pretty favorably to his earlier singles. 10/10

3. You Know Me - This, I hear, is the next single. Good choice. It's unlike anything he's done before, yet sounds so much like him. I love the throwback doo-wop feel and the chorus is ridiculously catchy. 10/10

4. Blasphemy - Out of all of the tracks on the record, this sounds the most like old-school Robbie Williams. It should, too, since it was co-written by longtime collaborator Guy Chambers. The Chambers/Williams combo is the stuff of legends, and soars on this gentle, quiet ballad. 10/10

5. Do You Mind - Continuing the hot streak that makes up the first half of the album, this uptempo rocker features a glam beat and a throwaway chorus that is catchier than it should be. It's Williams-by-the-numbers, for sure, but fans have missed it. 9/10

6. Last Days Of Disco - Back to the Rudebox sound here, and it's probably the most successful of the more experimental "dance" tracks on the album. The melody is gorgeous and the vocals are so smooth and subtle. This could be a big hit for him. 10/10

7. Somewhere - I can't really give this a score, since it's basically an interlude, but I adore it. It cuts the album in half perfectly with its stabbing strings and dark, glammed-up sound.

8. Decepticon - The big ballad of the album, this has a strange, almost underwater quality to its sound. It unfolds slowly into an interesting experiment, but it's not a real standout for me. 8/10

9. Starstruck - A midtempo r&b/disco hybrid, this has been a favorite of many listeners, but isn't quite connecting with me. It sounds a lot like George Michael, but I prefer Robbie's vocals on rockier tracks. This is smoothed out too much that it sounds a little dull around the edges. 7/10

10. Difficult For Weirdos - The sonic brother to Last Days Of Disco, it's the weaker of the two, but still a strong offering that'll satisfy the fans of Williams' dancier side. It sounds a lot like the Pet Shop Boys. 8/10

11. Superblind - Another big ballad, with a sound that mixes Bowie-glam and Brit-rock. It never amounts to much, but it's a pretty way to close the album. In fact, it should have been the close of the album. 7/10

12. Won't Do That - This feels like it's tacked onto the album and doesn't belong there. It's fine (and even kinda funky), but defines the word "filler." Should have been a b-side. 6/10

13. Morning Sun (Reprise) - sounds like what it is.

Album Grade: 8.5/10

3 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Great write up. I think You Know Me, Blasphemy and Last Days of Disco are my favourite trifecta of songs on the album. Overall though, it's a really marvelous effort and one that (however it does) places him firmly at the forefront of grown up pop again.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

I'm really loving it, more than I thought I would, actually. The first half is nearly flawless.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a brilliant album, some great songs and orchestral pieces on it. standouts for me. Bodies, You Know ME, Starstruck, Deceptacon Morning Sun and Do You Mind so far.

one of the best albums around, congrats Robbie and Trevor Horn, keeping fingers crossed for Best album at the Brits.

1:07 AM  

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