Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Reality Killed the Video Star, Robbie Williams **Review**
"Trevor Horn saved Robbie Williams." That's what many people (probably including Robbie himself) think about Robbie's new album. I'm one of the select few who actually pretty much liked Rudebox and I do think it was a much better album than Intensive Care. Reality Killed the Video Star just follows in the getting-better-since-I-broke-up-with-Guy-Chambers path. Robbie lost its footing after he and Guy parted ways but he's managed to find himself again. Artistically as well as in his private life (I sincerely hope so).
Trevor Horn...is an adorable genius, responsible for producing albums of some of my favourite artists: Pet Shop Boys (Introspective, Fundamental) and Marc Almond (Tenement Symphony). I love Trevor, his production is OK with me. He's never been very cutting-edge, the songs he produces are full of strings and sparkling stardust (yeah, that's what I hear there), he makes your soul dance and maybe ache a little but he won't ever go and stab. Intelligent, over-the-top production that's exciting enough to make you really listen.
There's nothing very new happening on Reality Killed the Video Star (a blatant pun on Trevor's own hit "Video Killed the Radio Star" with The Buggles): Trevor creates his usual sound and Robbie lends his voice and his lyrics (tho less biting this time and not all of them are his).
I'm not quite sure if I hear it on the album but when Robbie sings live these days, there's some kind of new vulnerability to his singing, which I love. I was really lucky to hear some of the new songs live at the Electric Proms gig. The live versions had something this album lacks: the aformentioned vulnerability, the passion and riskiness of life, some kind of spark.
BUT I'm SO not saying I don't like the album!!!
There are no fillers - which is something that probably only happened to Robbie's Greatest hits before. ;o)
It opens and closes with one song: "Morning Sun" a catchy enough song for you to have it stuck in your head and not really mind. And what could be more pleasing to this Beatlemaniac than a huge Walrus refference? :o)
"Bodies" is a grower. I liked it right at first listen but couldn't imagine for it to be a huge hit...which it totally became. Jesus didn't die for you. What are you on? also gives you a good example of why Robbie's never been huge in the US of A. :o)
"You Know Me" is a Christmassy post-break-up song. A pretty solid poppy affair that could easily replace Last Christmas (please, do!) and that isn't ashamed of what it is. Orchestra pop rulez!
And after this jingly little song we get to something that can be only described as a FGS - fucking genius song. A Williams-Chambers leftover composition called "Blasphemy".
Can't decide what's the best component of this brilliance: the melody, the production (Trevor and Ann Dudley at their best!) or the lyrics? At the Electric Proms Robbie joked about how clever the bast for me/blasphemy was, putting himslef down as usual. the truth is it IS clever and the lyrivcs as a whole totally cut deep into one's heart. Especially if you are a oversensitive little bugger as me.
And I can't behave
No, it's not the heathen in me
it's just that I've been bleeding lately, internally.
I definitelly don't mind "Do You Mind?", it's "A Place to Crash" Take Two and I completely enjoy listening to it. I predict this is gonna be that kind of song I'm gonna be dancing along and singing along to in my bathroom after a long long day.
Do you like Pet Shop Boys? Well, Robbie does - and with Trevor producing you can be sure you're gonna get some of the PetSound as well. "Last Days of Disco" is one of the Pet Shop Heavies (no songwriting credits there, just a bit of thieving)... the kind of song you start listening to with a mild interest and by the end of it you just freaking love it. Oh, want a Robbie quote? Don't call it a comeback. Wink. Wink.
"Somewhere" is SO Paul McCartney-Beatle-esque. Or you could just say that it's a piece that would fit into a good pre-Webber musical. It's short and prepares you well for "Deceptacon".....this word apparently describes a woman who appears attractive but is actually ugly. The "stepping on eggshels" bit has been hauting me ever since I first heard it...an interesting harmony...the best part? A big soaring chorus that includes the word "Britain". Get your poppy ready.
Ready, steady, go! "Starstruck" was love on first listen. I have to say I enjoed the live version of this song a wee bit more but if I break into a George Michael Dance, I'm sure everything will be fine. Quote? You laugh at us we’re different - And we laugh ‘cause you’re all the same.
Pet Shop Song Number Two is actually called "Difficult For Weirdos" and its lyrics are...priceless.
Guess the gender, unless you’d rather
He is a lesbian, but that’s OK
I choose to take this song as a loving mockery of Lady GaGa. I don't think it was written with her in mind BUT it just reminds me of her. If I wanted to make fun of her, I'd write lyrics like those.
"Superblind" has a slow, average start but when it gets to the chorus, you understand why it got to be included on this album. It's a fine one.
I’m the genius behind me; maybe I shouldn’t have said it. reminds me of poor Topher of Dollhouse. :o)
"Won't Do That" is a love song written for Robbie's missus Ayda. Apparently, according to Robbie it's the first love song he's ever written. Q Magazine begged to differ giving example like "She's The One" and "Angels". Well, I never really took "Angels" for a love song. Didn't really cross my mind...and "She's The One" (which is a song I'm allergic to) wasn't, in fact, written by Robbie. "Won't Do That" isn't a ballad at all, it's a happy love song full of life. Yay for Robbie & Ayda, I say! :o)
Reality Killed the Video Star probably is a new Robbie of sorts. One that's more mature and seems content with where he is who he is and at the moment. Being Robbie Williams is only a part-time job, thank God.
The morning brings a mystery
The evening makes it history
Who am I to rate the morning sun