mon 04/03/2024

Album: Take That - This Life | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Take That - This Life

Album: Take That - This Life

The national treasure trio don't have enough tunes to counteract the bland production

Not The Beatles blue album

Listening to the best of what they’ve created since their post-2005 reformation, it would take a staunch anti-Take That churl to hold fast to the punk-rockin’ claim the “man band” are, musically, just talentless piffle. “Shine”, “Patience”, “Hey Boy”, “The Flood” and others are evidence to the contrary.

But it’s understandable why the (now) trio are so divisive. For those old enough, they’re manufactured tween-fangirl pap (from the era that gave us rave, grunge and Britpop rising). To those younger, they’re softy nan music. Their latest album contains a few memorable tunes but slips, unhindered, towards the latter assertion.

It's not a great leap forward from their last album, 2017’s Wonderland, but it comes across as more autopilot. The sound of the music is as if an A.I. programme has been asked to create an amalgam of Crosby, Stills & Nash, David Essex, “Fat Old Sun”-era Pink Floyd, and, especially, Supertramp, very Seventies, then, but with the added multi-tracked sheen of Eighties/Nineties lighter-waving stadium rock balladry.

The lyrics are often hackneyed or iffy (“Headlights shine like diamonds in the pouring rain” from “The Champion”, “With a mind full of madness and a heart full of sadness, I go wherever you lead” from “Mind Full of Madness”, etc) and the subject matter is by-rote empowerment with support from loved ones, most especially on the single “Windows”, one of the better songs (despite another “madness”/“sadness” couplet!).

Barlow, Owen and Donald can write a song, as is evidenced by the best cut, the closing and triumphant “Where We Are”, but the album has a triteness that’s off-putting (perhaps exemplified by the titles of “March of the Hopeful” and “Days I Hate Myself”). In short, there are not enough outstanding songs. This slowly instigates an overall blandness which, despite knowing I’d be swimming in a sea of Middle England comfy sofa sounds, I couldn’t quite get past.

Below: watch the video for Take That "Windows"

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