Robbie Williams

Escapology  Hear it Now

RS: 0of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 4of 5 Stars


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For the past five years, Robbie Williams has been England's most entertaining pop star. He's a boy-band graduate prone to passing out in pubs and mocking his own fame with lyrical pronouncements such as "What's the point of hating me?/You can't argue with popularity/Well, you could, but you'd be wrong." If Justin Timberlake had half as much personality, the U.S. pop charts would be a lot more fun. EMI recently signed Williams to a megamillion-dollar deal and declared its intention of pushing him hard in the United States. But for American listeners who haven't acquired the taste over the years, he seems destined to remain principally a British phenomenon, like curry-flavored potato chips.

While 2000's Sing When You're Winning was a trashy masterpiece that the States ignored, Escapology sounds like a more self-conscious effort to craft a pop-rock blockbuster. It's already a huge hit in the U.K.; this Americanized release shuffles the track listing and omits two songs about Los Angeles, presumably for trying too hard. Williams does a fine job belting out power ballads such as "Monsoon" and "Come Undone," but the best tracks here are the ones least likely to become hits, on which he shows off his British cheekiness. One highlight is "Me and My Monkey," a seven-minute saga with mariachi horns about checking into a Las Vegas hotel with an out-of-control chimp. But "Handsome Man" is the funniest; it features Williams singing such lines as "It's not very complicated/I'm just young and overrated."

(From RS 920, April 17, 2003)


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