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The Circus

The Circus isn’t terrible. In fact it’s very listenable; genre-wise it falls somewhere between Beatlesy ballads and Billy Joel’s ‘The Piano Man’ .

Rating: 6 / 10

Patrick Freyne, 15 Dec 2008

I was very happy with the Take That comeback. It was like that satisfying final reel of a biopic in which the badly served heroes get their triumphant comeback – a stadium concert and a verse or two of a comeback tune that’s all rising chord sequences, strings and bonhomie. And then everyone cheers and the credits role. Our little boy(band) has become a man(band).

I was dead chuffed with that scenario. In that context I even liked the Marks and Spencer’s ads in which the boys romped with Mylene Class, Twiggy, Noémie Lenoir and Erin O’Connor in a Christmas wonderland, or the fact Gary Barlow was writing the tunes for the ridiculous teen musical Britannia High. Sure they’d earned it. I just never imagined I’d have to listen to a whole album of rising chord changes, strings and inspiring lyrical messages about the world and a middle-aged man’s place in it (there’s even a song about not really understanding reality television and ‘modern life’ on ‘How Did It Come To This’). You don’t have to listen to the whole album in the biopic. Never mind two albums.

That said The Circus isn’t terrible. In fact it’s very listenable once you get over the shock of Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason not fading into a conclusive, pre-credits montage. Genre-wise it falls somewhere between Beatlesy ballads and Billy Joel’s ‘The Piano Man’ (both good things I think you’ll agree) and features uplifting lyrics like “Today this could be the greatest day of our lives” (on ‘Greatest Day’) and “The sun comes out for you” (on ‘Julie’). The quartet certainly have a sunny disposition. One thing they don’t have, oddly enough, is autotune, which should be part of any manband’s arsenal. Its lack of use here is ‘brave’.

Key Track: ‘Hold Up A Light’

Rating: 6 / 10
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