Disclaimer: This is a Take That CD, it may not appear to be that initially but it is. With strong muse/bowie/drug influences.. except no drugs were involved with the making of this,. (Mr. Clean-Living Jason Orange probably wouldn't allow it.) There is no 'shines', no 'beautiful world' nor 'greatest day''s, no sparkles or sunshines, no rainbows or cheerios while drinking tea. The most hilarious review I've come across to date has been 'there may be one song about love, but then again.. it may be about robots'.
"The Flood" | (☆☆☆☆☆) When I hear the Flood, I would like to say that the first impression that comes to mind is that this is epic, this is exactly what you would expect them to sing. It has all of the beautifully gorgeous vocal hooks that Gary Barlow is so well known for. If you've seen the music video, you also see them rowing into a dark sea. That dark sea is in fact this album. There's rough waters ahead you guys and we're leaving the Take That we know and love for something a bit different.
"SOS" | (☆☆☆☆) Excellent Seque into this song, a flash of thunder and lightening to end "The Flood" and then this song is the rough waters. Or perhaps we've just gone through the looking glass where everything is inverted and upside down. Mark sings "It's an SOS.. like a bullet to the head, it's an SOS" in post apocalyptic techno-grunge. Robbie sings counter on this but it works after listening to it. I had no qualms with Robbie launching in on this song, because I in retrospect I didn't notice his voice all that much, this song after all carries more of Mark's vocal signature more then anything else. Still the harmonies in the very background are patently Take That, I can hear their voices in the "Oh no no no.." and so to me it's still Take That, albeit Take That with eye liner and tight leather pants.
"Wait" | (☆☆☆☆) More Robbie. It is really hard to get into the song initially but then when you hear the Chorus, it's hard not to be pulled on or in. And Jason's voice comes out really strongly in the chorus. (Okay so I can sense Jason's voice a mile away since I think his voice, both speaking and singing is just plain gorgeous). This song is a Robbie song but it doesn't annoy me whatsoever.
"Kidz" | (☆☆☆☆☆) This song is infectuous to me. And this is my favorite Mark song by far. But it's not just because of Mark.. but because this to me is so much a solarian song for me (you know me and anything that I could attribute to Xenogears). It's also the military beat and when you hear them going 'lalalalala" toward the end of the song you can hear every single member of the band keeping beat in their own time, with Mark's all over the place, Jason's merely chiming in while Howard and Gary keep almost strict beat and time. It's those little details which make me happy. It's amazing what you can hear when you actually keep a listen to it.
"Pretty Things" | (☆☆☆) This is a duet between Gary and Robbie song, and while it's a very good song, I just would rather just hear Gary's voice, though yes.. both Robbie and Gary have strong voices which vocally could do alot of competing in a song, unlike Mark and Robbie's who voices are very compatible and meld together pretty well. So I'm not too happy about Robbie's voice being predominate throughout the song. It's very addictive though you can hear the guys harmonizing in the distant background, just Gary's vocal signature could stand to be a bit stronger.
"Happy Now" | (☆☆☆☆☆) This is my favorite song on this album. This is one of those songs about robots, or it could be about prozac, but in essence maybe it could be about both? THIS SONG HAS ALL THE DRAWS OF A TAKE THAT SONG, IT SOUNDS HAPPY. It may or may not really be that way. False sense of security. Oh I love you Take That, I love you so god damn much) Not to mention that you can hear Jason chime in. One of the best things about this CD is that I've finally noticed that Jason treats his vocals like surprise buttsecks, you never expect it, and then you hear his vocal traces or even if he sings the sentance 'amazing me' in the course of the song, it just surprises you. I heard it and I was like "IS THAT JASON?" Also, Howard.. all over the Chorus. DOWNLOAD THIS ONE NOW! (if you only download two songs off this album, this is one of them!) Also, this song.. the piano going through it brings me to mind of Yasunori Mitsuda and the Zeal theme.
"Underground Machine" | (☆) This is not a Take That song, this is a Robbie Williams song, don't let the fact that it's on "Progress" fool you. You can tell that it is a Robbie William's song when he prattles on about what a 'beast' and a 'man' he is. "You might be good looking, but you can't sleep with yourself tonight". Robbie has to tell himself how awesome he is, the other members of Take That.. they already know. As it is 3 out of 3 Take That fans (myself, shuufish and vampyran) agree that this song is indeed the WEAKEST LINK on the album.
"What Do You Want From Me" | (☆☆☆☆) This song is going to be one of the singles, that's my prediction, and it's a good song, not my favorite of Mark's song, but in the case of my star ratings it's better then average. Mark is so used to singing songs about 'fucking up'. In fact he has four to date, and honestly they are endearing songs because he sings them and you just want to hug him and go "It's okay, Markie.. I forgive you!" because he sounds so tender and vulnerable. This song. NOT ONE OF THEM. He sings this very pragmatically and matter of fact, there's no pleas or anything. It's a bit refreshing really and pretty strong in the scheme of things. I wouldn't toss this song out of bed for crackers.. but then I wouldn't toss Mark out of it either.
"Affirmation" | (☆☆☆☆☆) Howard sings this song and you might of seen this rating from me already since I love Howard, and Jason.. (I love me some dancing muppets.) This song impresses me because we get to see the wide range of Howard's vocal capabilities, all along the course of ONE SONG. They aren't quite there but they are starting to navigate their way back to Take That-land after the wierdness that is/was the middle of the album. Dare I say that this is a very normal song for Take That, yes.. it's very close to it and a very lovely song. ("we're not really falling apart.. we're just incomplete" okay as normal as a Take That song can be without drowning in mounds of unrepentant sap)
"Eight Letters/Flower Bed" | (☆☆☆☆☆)/(☆☆☆☆☆) First "Eight Letters".. This.. this! Take That has finally came back to shore. This song, this this THIS THIS is a Take That song. It's one of the most mature Gary Barlow song I've ever heard, his voice is clear, easily heard... not overly synthisized. This is a stadium song at it's finest. Yes the Flood might of been a natural selection, but honestly, if they do not play this song at the "Progress" concert, I will be very very dissapointed, this song has all of the makings of a 'hold your lighter/cellphone' up in the air. I really like this song, alot and I think that it's beautiful. Next the special hidden track, "Flower Bed". That is a Jason song, it comes right after Eight Letters so the file is extra long. First of all, the first part of it is Jason having fun with a voice modifier. But really the song is so dreamy, so whimsical, slightly surreal that it's no surprise that it's a Jason song. Jason' voice is my favorite one out of Take That because his voice is gentle, dreamy and with a slight edge to it that makes it masculine. You can also tell it's a Jason song because he did have to seize on any opportunity to sing about 'going out of his mind'. It's a love song but it's not a conventional one, and that is what makes it beautiful. An excellent end to this album. ("I was enjoying myself sleeping in your flowerbed")
The first run through, I wasn't really all that fond of it, perhaps because I couldn't exactly see where they were coming from or exactly what they were going to. But then after the second playthrough, I started to notice the little intricaies that just made everything so much better for me. While there are two songs on this album that I think are average or even below average. The other songs manage to strangely enough carry it. And there are so many memoriable songs, new.. different and innovative. It's quite exciting to see what they came up with when they said they wanted to surprise their fans. I will be listening to this album for a long time and just noticing different chords, different instances where I can hear Jason's voice, or Mark's voice, Howard's or Gary's... every listen through will be a new discovery.
Do I think you should download it? Absolutely. Do I think that you should buy it if you have the means to do so. OH GODS YES! It's the Take That album for people who aren't too fond of romance lovey-dovey. It has it's moment of sap but for the most part it keeps it real. And the romance that is so inherent in such songs as 'rule the world' and 'what is love' is downplayed and the love that is sang about is more realistic and everyday. It's love that you have to work hard to maintain.
But the songs about robots, drugs and anarchy are pretty awesome too ♥
"Eight Letters/Flower Bed"
*download link available on request