Album Review: Robbie Williams – Reality Killed the Video Star

By on Tuesday, 10th November 2009 at 2:00 pm

Robbie Williams - Reality Killed the Video Star (side)I admit. I’m pretty geeky when it comes to Robbie Williams. Ok, ok, so pretty much everyone agrees his last album, Rudebox, sucked bad – but come on, remember Feel? Come Undone? Millennium? She’s the One? It’s undeniable Mr. Williams has produced some incredibly awesome numbers other than Angels over the last few years – so surely we can forgive him for that momentary “rudebox! do the rudebox” blip? Well, I suppose he needs to begin by reassuring us all with his latest album, Reality Killed the Video Star – the musical child spawned from a few reclusive years in America generally spent obsessing over aliens and finding love in the form of American actress, Ayda Field.

Before I commence with the review, you gotta cut the Robster some slack. Over the past few months, Robbie’s had to sit at home watching his thriving ex-bandmates, Take That, sell out stadiums across the nation, while he was contrastingly left alone to deal with the biting backlash of British fans and critics. Reality Killed the Video was, alas, a super scary risk for the confidence-knocked Robbie. The album is, unsurprisingly then, filled with a bag of endearing nerves.

Still, back in July, Williams commented Reality Killed the Video Star would offer up a slice of “old Robbie, new Robbie, and a Robbie that neither of us have met”. The album, much to the pleasant surprise of fans, certainly does embrace retro R.W. Lush string arrangements are evident throughout the album, particularly amid mushy ballads such as impressive opener, Morning Sun, the orchestral ditty, Blasphemy, and You Know Me – a slick, slushy love song lined with retro doo-wops. Additionally, it’s particularly nice to hear Robbie’s classically suave, Swing When You’re Winning-era voice pushing itself through here.

As well as nostalgic Williams ballads, there are too, many hints of those curious Rubebox beats. Electro-pop tracks include the La Roux’d Last Days of Disco, and the robotic Difficult for Weirdos, which sadly verges on annoyingly immature both musically and lyrically (“Psycho evolution, your pollution, makes it difficult for weirdos”) come the end.

But what of this Robbie “neither of us have met”? Well, I’d start with the intriguing Deceptacon, a track equal to a soppy Space Oddity, boasting a particularly exotic harmony and classic guitar arrangement towards the end. Meanwhile, the jerky Bodies may be saturated in terrible lyricism (“Jesus really died for me, then Jesus really tried for me)”, but it still possesses a gratingly awesome, gritty-hook which recently made it an unsurprising radio hit. Superblind is a further highlight – a fine, near 5 minute, electro-orchestral mix, while Do You Mind is similarly appealing thanks to it’s gruff guitar riffs and sugary-pop chorus.

To conclude, I’d say there are certainly no captivating classics evident on Robbie’s latest offering. There are no lingering sing-alongs ala Feel, nor cocky dance-alongs such as Rock DJ. But, honestly, it’s not all that bad. The production is typically big and bold, and Robbie is certainly back with an undoubted sense of strengthened stability this 2009. And I’m happy for him.

Reality Killed the Video Star is out now. Purchase it over at for £8.98

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