Take That - The Circus

2009-02-20 16:40
The Circus

There are some fitting better-with-age analogies in the Take That story to be made with fine cheese and wine, George Clooney and Desmond Tutu - but this comeback is an unprecedented triumph of a group who have grown up alongside their adoring fanbase, and every bit of their overwhelming success (sold-out stadium tours, awards appreciation, even more No. 1 singles) has been well-earned. The Circus, their second album since reforming in 2005, might well be the highpoint of their career.

From the outset it's clear that the group's musical palette has grown beyond the energetic dance-pop tunes that was their staple over a decade ago. Now it appears that the lads have been taking their musical cues from the lush instrumentation and grand scale of Coldplay and Keane – with tinkling pianos and violin cascades swooning across many of the stand-out tracks.

Gary Barlow has always had a way with writing knee-weakening ballads, as he proved with their 1995 classic "Back For Good" – while 'Patience' from 2006's Beautiful World seemed to build from that tradition. On The Circus, the soaring "Greatest Day" has completed the trilogy of endlessly playable Take That songs. Brimming with aching joy, the song is a euphoric trip into the clouds and feels like the realisation of a lifetime of dreams. It's that good.

Elsewhere, matters of the heart take a whimsical turn, especially when Mark Owen takes over lead vocal duties as he does on the sweetly satisfying "Julie" and "Up All Night".

But it’s the big, bruising ballads that elevate this album above mere chart fodder – there are sublime moments in "You", "The Circus" and the sexy samba of secret track 'She Said' that recall past glories while attesting to their admirable longevity.

Since reforming, there have been ample rumours of a certain Robbie Williams rejoining the group he unceremoniously left in 1996, even more so after his solo career took a bit of a nosedive with the atrocious Rudebox (2006) – but such a reunion appears needless now. The older, wiser Take That never really needed him. Rather now it would seem that he's the one who needs them.

Sometimes there is nothing more glorious than witnessing the development of a boy into a man. A particularly sophisticated and well-aged man, that is. And for any woman who enjoyed her teen prime years during the gloriously poppy 90s, the re-emergence of Take That from manufactured boyband with a thing for day-glo cycling shorts and studded codpieces, to the wonderfully matured heroes they are today, has been nothing short of astonishing.

goda 2009/02/16 4:45 PM
Rudebox sucked mostly, but there were two songs that didn't: The 80s, and The 90s, were very cool.
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