Thanks to the wonder that is play.com I received my copy of Robbie Williams’ new album, Intensive Care, 48 hours before its actual release. As a fan of the Robster I was delighted but is it any good?
Popular opinion on the first single ‘Tripping’ is divided. I’m in the ‘love it’ camp preferring it to last years ‘Radio’ so I was looking forward to the album. First play however was disappointing. It felt wishy-washy. Robbie’s albums always seem to consist of a fine balance of good upbeat singalongs and brilliant ballads. This album seemed to hover somewhere in the middle. But then came the final two tracks; ‘A Place To Crash’ is an extremely catchy rocky song more in the traditional Robbie vein – it’s followed up with ‘King Of Bloke of Bird’ which is a perfect balance and the last 30 seconds provide a gorgeous instrumental end to the album.
Hearing these two great tracks inspired me to have an immediate second listen. Straight away ‘Ghosts’ stood out much more but the song that really grabbed me was ‘Advertising Space’
After a few listens I’m finding ‘Make Me Pure’ a brilliant track, almost up there with ‘Better Man’
Robbie has this unusual ability to create ‘growers’ – tracks that take a number of airings to ‘click’. It was the same with ‘Rock DJ’ and ‘Come Undone’ but it is Intensive Care that demonstrates this ability more than ever before. I was Djing last night and I’m glad to say ‘A Place To Crash’ got the dance floor filled – a potential Robbie smash there.
This morning the first thing I did was put the album on – I can’t get the tunes out of my head though the only track that isn’t growing is ‘Spread Your Wings’ – the backing track sounds like one of the instrumentals from Channel 4’s Supernanny and the way Robbie speaks the lyrics it sounds like an attempt at recapturing Escapology’s brilliant ‘Me & My Monkey’.
So to some up this is a more challenging album for Robbie fans – but to be honest I’m glad. I’d rather he try out new sounds and new ideas, there are far too many bands that keep releasing the same stuff in the same key with the same chords. Robbie may loose some long time fans with Intensive Care but I think he’ll gain new ones too.
Verdict: I love it! Album of the year for me so far putting Kaiser Chiefs into second place. Even the covers tarot theme perfectly captures the thoughtful feel to Intensive Care. It’s a different sound but it’s not the disaster all the Guy Chambers fans were predicting – a success and I look forward to more Williams/Duffy collaborations.