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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Track-by-Track: Take That - Progress

I've never listened to an entire Take That album before -- not in their 90's heyday, not during their 00's resurgence. And before I heard the lead single from this, I wasn't too excited about a new album (even one with Robbie Williams). So take this review for what it is: the thoughts of a casual (relatively indifferent) fan. What I can say for sure, though, is that producer Stuart Price has certainly had a good year. If his 2010 album work was a trilogy, this would be the epic conclusion. It's as much his record as it is Take That's.

1. The Flood - The band have enjoyed a string of massive hit ballads over the past few years, but it seems that it was all building up to this. It's an incredibly majestic, redemptive song. The perfect comeback, produced to utter perfection. 10/10

2. SOS - This is where the album takes a startlingly (excellent) turn. It's a full-on paranoid dance track -- not what I would've expected from the new Take That. The interchange between vocalists works wonders and this again supports my theory that any song with SOS in the title is bound to be a good one. 9/10

3. Wait - A string-laden midtempo with more of an r&b sound to it. I like how this carries on the electronic elements, but it's one of my least favorite on the album. It sounds a little too mainstream compared to the more experimental aspects of other tracks. 8/10

4. Kidz - This is a big, apocalyptic track... a cross between Muse and the We Will Rock You musical. It's got a cast-of-thousands sound to it, with a heavy glam beat, dramatic stomps, and a sneering Robbie vocal. Excellent. 10/10

5. Pretty Things - This couldn't possibly sound any more like Bowie. It's a languid, distorted music box ballad that didn't hit me on first listen but grows each time I hear it. It's more a solo Robbie song than anything, but it's a great one. 9/10

6. Happy Now - We've now entered the second half of the album, which is stronger than the first. This kicks it off quite soaringly. It transforms from a tricky verse to a pulsing disco chorus. It's the most immediate song on the album. 10/10

7. Underground Machine - Less instant, but just as impressive. This is one of the more experimental sounds for them -- big glam swagger, industrial guitar riff and a loopy falsetto chorus. Like a lot of songs here, it's basically a Robbie solo track, but unlike anything you've heard from him before. 10/10

8. What Do You Want From Me - Though I would've chosen a different vocalist for this, there's no denying the strength of this song. It's like Fire With Fire part two. It's got that ballad vs. dance track sound that Stuart Price produces so well. It builds to something pretty epic at the end. 10/10

9. Affirmation - A perfect seque from the last track, this has quickly grown into one of my favorites. It's got a dramatic prog sound to it, with Bowie-esque verses that build into an explosive chorus. I'm amazed that this is even the same band as the Take That of the nineties. 10/10

10. Eight Letters - The big closing ballad. The lyrics are highly self-referential and autobiographical. It's probably closest to the sound of the previous two albums and seems to utilize the entire band more fully than on most of the album, which is fitting given the meaning behind the song. 9/10

11. Flowerbed - Technically a bonus track, but it's on every version of the album so it'll feature in my review. This tender ballad opens with processed vocals for the first minute or so before revealing a simple, delicate melody. It feels a little unfinished, almost like an interlude, but it's certainly pleasant. 7/10

Album Grade: 9.2/10

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Pranav said...

It's interesting that "Wait" was your least favorite song on the album. I found myself playing that song and "Eight Letters" on repeat over and over again. I just got my hands on the Take That album this evening.

12:02 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Excellent review - I love Eight Letters as it is a real harking back to the traditional take that to finish off the album - everything that comes before though ranges from fascinating to exhilarating!

3:50 AM  

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