I should share some background before giving my review.
Before this past summer, I knew Robbie only through his one and only US hit, "Millennium," from 1999. I always had hoped to hear more music from him, but that never happened here.
Flash forward to this past summer. I, like many millions of other people around the world, watched the Live 8 concerts this summer on-demand via the web. In the home stretch of the London concert, who appears on stage but Robbie Williams. Knowing next to nothing about him at that time (he, unfortunately, is very much an obscurity here, as many have noted and rightfully pined) I was absolutely FLOORED not only by his talent as an artist but also by his absolutely amazing skills as a performer. There very much is a distinction between the two skills...I have seen many talented artists who are mediocre or downright awful entertainers. Robbie, in the short 20 minutes that he was on stage, demonstrated an incredible talent to take a crowd of several hundred thousand people and wrap every single one of them around his finger. Talent like this on stage is a one-in-a-million kind of thing, and I can compare him to but a few acts who, in their own right and in their own times, were legends on stage. It absolutely blew me away, and I replayed that portion of the concert probably 100 times over the summer.
I got wind that Robbie released a new album and I was hell-bent on getting a copy of it, never before hearing any of his material off of an album. I ordered this album, it arrived last week, and I have had a steady diet of Robbie since it arrived to give me a chance to appreciate this work fully. After many hours of absorbing this album, I came to a conclusion:
This album is excellent.
"Ghosts" is a great song. While others have said that this song may supercede "Angels" as the audience-favorite anthem, I do not agree...but it is a great song nonetheless. "Tripping" is his first single from the album, and it is a pretty strong song. My favorites may be the songs which are extremely funny to me: "Your Gay Friend" and "A Place to Crash." I mean, really...how can you not love songs whose choruses begin
"And I'll be your gay friend / 'cuz your marriage never ends"
"Find a place to crash / Move your boney ass"
The remainder of the songs, too, are quite good. There are a couple of slower songs to match the up-tempo songs, but there are no "true ballads" on this album. I have to spend some more time with this album to gain a better appreciation of a couple of the songs (I'm not placing all of the references), but on the whole it is an excellent album from a truly gifted artist.
"Greatest Hits" are on their way...can't wait.
Robbie, brother...you hooked another one here in the US.
"First they ignore you
Then laugh at you and hate you
Then they fight you - then you win"