The British boyband (manband?) Take That is and will always be my Favourite Boyband Of All-Time, so the release of their newest album III was definitely the highlight of my music life in 2014.
I barely batted an eyelash when it was reported that prodigal son Robbie Williams wouldn’t rejoin the band for this album (owing to his wife’s pregnancy and impending solo tour), but it certainly shocked me when Take That released a statement last September saying that Jason Orange has chosen to leave the band. How would it affect the band? How would it change the music? Numerous questions swirled inside my panicked mind, but a huge part of me was relieved that the 3 remaining members have chosen to carry on. I don’t think I can handle another disbandment after their successful comeback. Seriously.
Originally, I wanted to wait until I can get a physical copy of the album before I listened to it (much like what I’ve done with Progress), but I could not delay gratification any longer and chose to listen to it in full through a leaked copy on Youtube. Don’t fret, I will still purchase multiple hard copies once they become available in my country!
I shouldn’t have doubted the boys as they have produced yet another ridiculously amazing, very Take That album.
I have to admit though that I was a bit weirded out at first listen, not expecting how the band would sound like this time around. Then again, this was probably due to the fact that I have been listening to their album Progress and EP Progressed for the past 4 years, and there’s no weirder “first listen to a Take That album” than that time I first heard their new, “evolved” sound in Progress.
As I have stated in my last album review for Gary Barlow’s solo effort SISYL, Magic happens when members of Take That (regardless of how many they are) write songs.
These Days was the album’s first single, and rightly so. I’m not quite sure how to aptly describe it but it’s a happy medium between the Take That pre-Beautiful World and the Take That of Progress. It’s catchy, upbeat, infectious and all-around feel good track that has the Take That stamp all over it.
I find Let In The Sun such a beautiful song because it is so encouraging and full of hope. It’s difficult to wallow in sadness and self-pity when you hear Barlow’s voice and their optimistic lyrics urging you on.
I’m not sure if this was intentional, but I find that the more I listen to If You Want It, the more it gets naughtier? Or is it just me? Typical Take That to make a song full of innuendoes. 🙂
Higher Than Higher is surprisingly my favourite track of the whole album, because it is such a superbly written love song. The genius of Barlow’s Take That love songs (although since Beautiful World 2006, all band members are credited in the songwriting, which makes it difficult to know which songs are purely written by Barlow) is, they are simple and earnest which prevents them from teetering into cheesiness, which a lot of love songs are prone to. Higher Than Higher is not just about romantic love, it is about a love that is so powerful, so healing and all-consuming that it just makes the person a better version of himself.
Sidebar: This also reminds me of how jealousy-inducing his love for his wife Dawn Andrews is. But, she’s a wonderful woman who saved him, so my hat’s doffed to her. 🙂
Get Ready For It is more popularly known as that song from the runaway hit film Kingsman: The Secret Service. Again, ridiculously catchy and has that Take That anthem stamp on it. To be honest, I watched the film just to support a Take That-related endeavour, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a kickass film (with an awesome soundtrack, to boot). Give it a watch!
Flaws is another emotionally-raw, earnest love song that probably reflects the three members’ view of themselves best. They may be world-famous pop stars adored by millions of women, but at the end of the day, when they look in the mirror, all they see are their insecurities and their fear that they just might not be good enough for the women they love.
Amazing has been described as a Paul McCartney-esque song, but I beg to differ. It is 100% a Barlow/Take That love song, the sort that will make you melt into a puddle of feelings if you’re lucky enough to find someone who will sing/dedicate it to you.
After taking a backseat from lead vocal duties in Progress, Captain Barlow returns to the helm and sings most of the lead vocals in the album, but Mark Owen and Howard Donald also had songs that showcased their vocals (Lovelife, Into The Wild, Do It All For Love and Give You My Love, respectively). It’s a bit sad to say that I didn’t really miss Orange’s vocals that much in this album (or Williams’, for that matter). The three more than made up for their absent members and the now-tighter TT ship reflected not just vocally but also in the quality of the songwriting.
Musically, Take That reeled it back and returned closer to their roots. They really didn’t need to shock again after the sound of Progress, what they needed to do was to re-establish the beloved signature sound of Take That with a modern twist to it, which was exactly what they accomplished with III.
Strange as it may seem, I reckon the departure of Orange (and to some extent, Robbie’s absence) became the catalyst to make this album as successful as it has been. Knowing full well that the band is now vulnerable to the ruthless vivisection of the press, the Thatters rallied and made III the most preordered album in the history of Amazon as well as reach the Number 1 spot in the UK. Proof that the band is still as beloved as ever, and that you shouldn’t ever mess with Thatters, y’all!
Is this a retirement album? Definitely not. Barlow, Owen and Donald has made it clear that they will remain as Take That for as long as the fans want them around, and believe me, millions of us never want them to stop being Take That! It would be interesting to see which musical direction the band will go from here, and of course what they have up their sleeves for their upcoming World Tour.
As for Williams and Orange, I firmly believe that nobody ever really leaves Take That, they just take a personal break.
Roll on 2017 so we can have the 25th Anniversary Reunion Tour!
P.S. Bonus: The TTIII boys doing what they do best–performing Live!