The Heavy Entertainment Show: Robbie Williams drops his best album in years
The Heavy Entertainment Show
He was once one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, but Robbie Williams’s output in recent years has been less than prosperous; even a return to his “swing” shtick with 2013’s Swing Both Ways failed to reignite his career to “glory days” levels.
Yet while the days of Angels, Millennium and Rock DJ may be only visible in the rear-view mirror, the good news for fans is that Williams’s 11th album is his most well-rounded in years. And that’s despite clunky, bullish lead single Party Like a Russian.
For one, he’s brought out the big guns this time; Ed Sheeran, Rufus Wainwright, John Grant and The Killers all feature in the writing credits alongside Robbie’s old pal Guy Chambers. Still, not all of his collaborations are successful.
- Subjective: Act I: Music for Inanimate Objects review – Goldie's booming, infectious music
- Experienced insider takes reins at Wexford Festival Opera
- Cranberries to honour Dolores O’Riordan with final album
- Wexford Festival Opera appoints new artistic director
- Robbie Williams ‘blasting Black Sabbath’ at Jimmy Page, letter claims
Wainwright may seem like an odd match for Williams, but his turn on the louche, old-time swinging glam of Hotel Crazy is both classy and superb.
On the other hand, the Ed Sheeran-penned Pretty Woman is lacklustre, by-the-numbers pop, while Mixed Signals sounds like a Killers cast-off (probably because it was).
In the meantime, Williams pokes fun at the cheeky-chappy bravado he’s famed for on the scene-setting title track, with lines such as “Good evening, children of cultural abandon/ You searched for a saviour, well here I am”. Similarly, his new role as a father has apparently altered his perception of life as he exhibits a sweeter, softer side on the odes to his children, Love My Life and the rocky, rousing, tongue-in-cheek Motherf*cker, on which he and their mother “pray our weakness makes you strong”.
There are some swoonsome ballads (David’s Song), a George Michael-esque funky dance stomper (Sensitive) and above all else, an abundance of energy in the mix that suggests that Williams has been reinvigorated. It’s not heavy, but it’s mostly quite entertaining.