‘How many members are there in Take That?’ is likely to become the toughest pub quiz question in existence. Before answers are even written Robbie will be back, pledging allegiance to Gary and Friends for the third time. Has Jason Orange left forever or will he be just as flaky? And more pressingly, who will be next? Will there even be a Take That next year or will there only be a Gary?
While all of these questions are undoubtedly swimming around the minds of loyal fans, at least they have shiny new album, III, to soften the blow. It’s just a shame that it is not very good.
Before it is assumed that I am a Take That hater, I’d like to state that I was open-minded about this album. I too was entertained by the theatrical music video to Shine and enjoyed listening to Patience before it was played to death on The X Factor. Nevertheless, III contains far too many lazily written and predictably produced songs to be worthy of praise.
Opening number, These Days, is clearly an attempt to create the new club ‘hit’ – and to be fair it may even become one. Slightly auto-tuned, poppy, and dance-like, it is certainly appropriate for a highly inebriated setting. Analogous to One Direction’s recent successful numbers, I am disappointed by the track’s lack of sophistication. Haven’t these guys been in the industry long enough to know what sounds good? They have fallen into the One Direction trap which I’m sure will be the fate of many other boy bands – One Direction work as a product because they are young and good-looking English boys who write love poems for their target demographic. Arguably, this trick will be less effective for three forty-something men. All we are left with are songs which are catchy but rubbish at their core.
Repetition is vast in this album - surprising considering Gary Barlow’s extensive song-writing abilities. The chorus to Let In The Sun consists of “Let in the sun, let in the sun, let in the sun, let in the sun”. And the bridge to If You Want It politely informs us “If you want it, you can have it, you can have it, if you want it, if you want it, come and get it, come and get it, if you want it”. Admittedly, these numbers supersede These Days in quality of melody, but the accompanying uninspiring words are unfortunate.
I concede that Freeze is very pretty. The lyrics are genuine and the backing music is relatively uncomplicated and sincere - although it should probably be mentioned that the preceding songs are so hyper that at this point, anything mildly soothing is refreshing. Flaws is also fairly pleasant to listen to. The addition of crowd vocals during the final chorus was a clever way to lift the number to a new level. Get Ready For It reminds us that Gary Barlow has a good voice - extremely cheesy but you can’t expect any different when listening to Take That. I just wish that for the rest of the album, Take That had ditched the embellishments and focused on the music.
Unfortunately, III suffers from the departure of two band members. The majority of songs are indistinguishable from the repetitive toot which currently plagues the music industry. There are a few dusty gems in III’s midst, but these aren’t to be raved about with much enthusiasm. Perhaps in the future, when Robbie and possibly even Jason return, we can expect a more high quality album.