Review Summary: We've been expecting you too.
It was clear from his first solo album that Robbie Williams managed to surpass Take That
. Life Thru a Lens
had it all: adolescent recklessness, punkish zeal, well-executed emulation of the Gallagher brothers, airy ballads and great melodies. A popular Angels
has been to this day one of the brightest signature songs of the scandalous and talented artist. It can also be stated that the first three Robbie’s albums not only outshone his former bandmates, but made his name famous and recognizable around the world as a solo artist.
I’ve Been Expecting You
uses the same approach as the debut. It’s a collection of good and great songs in different genres and topical content, all of the highest quality. If one wants to nitpick, it is going to be to the approach itself, since the album lacks coherence. However, let’s be honest, without solid material any coherence, conceptuality etc. would be useless. So, we will put all this nonsense aside for now.
What always made Robbie stand out is the seeming effortlessness (sometimes even abandonment) he possesses in creating and performing his songs. Equally effective and unaffected are his satirical view of himself pleasure-seeking (Strong
), mature reflections on self-delusion after broken heart (No Regrets
), total indifference of a losing leader (Jesus in the Camper Van
) or peaceful tenderness of two lovers (Heaven from Here
). Add in the immensely talented Guy Chambers (one of the most successful and long-running collaborations in the songwriter-producer-musician team) and a vibrant source of fresh musical ideas, and we get the work that is a pleasure to listen and relisten, singing along just like it’s the first time you hear it.
It is this tunefulness and captured sensitivity that comprise the basis of success. There is no need to listen attentively to the already mentioned No Regrets
– the song immediately gets under your skin and goes through you. Win Some Lose Some
is another confirmation that genius lies in simplicity, both musical and lyrical. “She touched my face and called me her lover / I never thought that I'd need another
” so clearly describes the first love which is pure, naïve and all-consuming. These Dreams
alternates dreamy tranquility and mystic anxiety before the song dissolves into comforting lines (“You've got tomorrow tomorrow…
”) as the album is ending (but has hidden tracks in no less atmospheric Stand Your Ground
and somewhat giddy Stalker’s Day Off
). And those who prefer hard-hitting and energetic cuts get Karma Killer
and Man Machine
that in all their cooking cutter and simple nature act as interesting detours to the burgeoning alternative rock territory.
At the spring of his solo career Robbie Williams pleasantly surprises, only cementing his status of one of the most successful and talented contemporary singers with subsequent releases. With mixed results at times, but not today.