It’s a popular title this year isn’t it? First it was used as the name of Katie Melua’s latest LP, then as a Cheryl Cole song (and second single) from her chart-topping sophomore album ‘Messy Little Raindrops’, and now it’s being used a the title for one of the most eagerly anticipated comebacks in music history.
And on that comeback, whilst it’s all very well and proper to let Robbie ‘have a go’ as it were, Take That needs to get that balance right because, circa. ‘Beautiful World’-‘The Circus’, people have noted Mark’s distinct vocal tone and his lead role in many of the jollier, poppier songs like ‘Up All Night’ and ‘Shine’, and they’ve come to like listening to him more, as well as chief song-writer and head of the clan, Gary.
Not to take anything from Gary or Robbie, as both are able vocalists, and trust me, I sat quite comfortably on a fence when I heard of the Robbie reunion and was adamant on staying there until I heard some decent material (‘Shame’ was not decent material). And upon hearing ‘The Flood’, I must admit, it may have expert hand at the lyrical helm and a chorus that would make Wembley Stadium feel crowded, but it does appear to have become the Robbie & Gary Show, hasn’t it?
Not that that’s a particularly bad thing either – in fact, to some it’ll be quite a good thing – but now Mark’s been sidelined, it leaves a doubt in your mind as to whether the rest of the album follows suit or actually gives him the chance to shine (no pun intended).
But anyway, back to ‘The Flood’. Produced by Stuart Price (the mastermind behind Kylie, Madonna and The Killers ), and it starts off with Robbie doing some nifty things with his vocal chords, with some verging-on-philosophical lyrics – “Back then, we were like cavemen/We’d beam at the moon and the stars”, which is probably pointing at the times when Gary and Robbie were a bit immature and battling each other to find who’d have the most success. And soon Gary takes precedence for the racing bridge, which sees a sudden burst of energy in the production department with it’s sweeping strings and from then on, the Gary’s trademark transition to a minor chord proves why ‘The Flood’s chorus is as epic as the title suggests.
Considering the grand scheme of things, Robbie plays his part, and he plays it well. Of course, it is sad to see Mark demoted to simply providing the harmonies and it’s even sadder to see Jason and Howard overlooked once again; it seems people have forgotten one of Take That’s biggest hits, ‘Never Forget’, had Howard’s lead vocals on it, and the criminal mind that thought the flawless ‘How Did It Come To This’ should remain an album track must not have respected Jason’s stellar vocal performance on it either.
None-the-less, Gary and Robbie’s vocals are on top form, and are at the best they’ve been for a while, particularly Robbie, who tackles the crescendo verses with ease and power. And not forgetting that staple of Take That songs – the musical section, where the chorus backing is played with a few “Ahh”s for the listener’s contentment, and rightfully so, because with it’s post-anthemic storminess and thumping drums it only adds to the overblown drama of the song already. They’re like a regular bunch of divas, they are.
And thankfully, the video doesn’t go down the route of a what could’ve been a horrible cliché; something like showing the group struggling at accomplishing a task as a four-piece, then Robbie comes along and helps out and all is fine and dandy and it’ll be tea and scones for elevenses; it’s got a deeper message than that.
Message: You may be idolised and experience short-lived success for a simple achievement, but the real test is longevity; we’ll keep going even if we hit barriers and will continue to be successful. Take note JLS.*
As a lead single, it’s up there – or probably even more ‘up there’ in my case – with ‘Greatest Day’ or ‘Patience’, and it certainly proves why the wishing well of Gary Barlow-penned hits won’t run dry for a long time, but I can’t help but get the feeling it would’ve been better without Robbie. There. I said it. I love some of Robbie’s material and I love some of Take That’s (oddly enough, I dislike all their earlier material pre-1999), but for me, I wanted to see a little more of the others celebrated on their big comeback record.
Oh well, maybe next time they’ll give Mark, Jason and Howard some solo parts; I loved ‘The Garden’.
**Odds are this part is not actually aimed at JLS.
Rating: 4.0 STARS
Download: November 8, 2010 (OUT NOW)
Featured Album: ‘Progress’