Okay, first a warning – we’re big Take That fans. And we think it shows how completely and utterly out of touch mainstream radio is in this country when they ignore music as epic and stirring as the band’s new single ‘Greatest Day’. If it was a Coldplay track, radio here would be playing it seven times a day.
‘Greatest Day’ provided a taster of what to expect when it was released digitally last week – it looks set to hit the top of the UK charts on Monday, but the album’s opening track ‘The Garden’, which starts hauntingly resplendent with Mark’s soft, almost spoken vocals, is a soaring pOp masterpiece which features all of the boys alternating the lead vocal (yes, Jason too), Gary providing the vocals for the chorus. With it’s message of hope and love, “this is the life we’ve been given, so open your heart and start loving”, sweeping strings and grand production, it’s undoubtedly the band’s new anthem.
‘Hello’ again features Mark on vocals, layed over a bed of jangly piano, bursting into a stomping beat, Beatles-esque harmonies and ’60s pOp sensibilities, before ‘Said It All’ sees Gary reclaim the lead vocal duties on what’s a down-tempo track that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the last Coldplay album.
Expect the band to be playing ‘Julie’ acoustically in the middle of the audience in their upcoming UK tour – with Mark again on lead vox, it’s also very ’60s in it’s outlook, beautifully layered and produced with plenty of ‘sha la las’ thrown in to get the audience singing along (and they will).
Touching title track ‘The Circus’ begins with just a piano and Gary’s vocals, over poignant lyrics about a love lost, “But I’m the only clown you’ll ever know, and now you can applaud my best mistake, I love you was too many words to say”.
Amy Winehouse will no doubt be reading closely the lyrics to ‘How Did It Come To This’, as the boys have recently hinted that the track was written about the troubled singer. With a whiff of Paul McCartney’s ‘Let Em In’ about the verses, it brings the tempo back up, and allows Jason to lay down only his second lead vocal in the band’s history. The song is strong and stirring for all of it’s three minutes and seven seconds.
‘Up All Night’ wouldn’t sound out of place on any of the Scissor Sister’s recordings and is essentially Shine part two, though a little less ELO and a little more ramblin’ road trip with it’s western-influenced violins, while Howard’s vocals are almost unrecognisable in the opening few bars of ‘What Is Love’, “if love is truth then let it break my heart, if love is fear lead me to the dark, if love is a game I’m playing all my cards”.
‘You’ brings Gary back to the lead vocal spotlight and again, it’s sweeping strings and million-dollar production give the love song an epic feel. ‘Hold Up A Light’ under Mark’s vocal is the band’s ‘Viva La Vida’, uplifting, uptempo, bright, rich, full, feel-good and familiar and on album closer ‘Here’, Howard sings about holding someone’s love close.
There’s a slightly camp (and completely out of place) hidden track too! OOH!
Spectacular production, awesome harmonies, killer songs and clever lyrics make Take That’s ‘The Circus’ one of the finest albums of the year. Now if only Australian commercial radio would wake up to themselves, get off the US-focussed merry-go-round and buy a ticket to see the circus, they might find they truly enjoy it.
Take That’s ‘The Circus’ is out in the stores today, with a deluxe version out on Saturday December 06.