The Top 50 Albums of Year 2010… #08 TAKE THAT “Progress”
08. TAKE THAT “Progress”
The comeback of Take That in 2010 was – for this pop whore – one of the biggest and most celebrated ones of the year. I’ve been a Take That Stan since they began in the 90′s, and continued my obsession when they reformed as a four-piece in 2006. My BFF Ben Atar and I even stalked Gary and Jason out the front of the Fox FM studios when they embarked on their blink-and-you’ll-miss-it promotional tour that very year. So any release from a reformed Take That is generally going to get some form of rise (HEM HEM) out of me. But the two albums they released in the new millennium as a four piece have nothing on their most recent effort, the one they released as a five piece. 2010′s “Progress” was exactly that – massive artistic (and, obviously, personal) progress. As charming as the last two records were, they were somewhat MOR in places; the boy band making records as a man band. There were a few remarkable shiny pop moments on both releases, but it was the combination of a returning Robbie Williams and the production genius of Stuart Price that saw them bang through with a full album of shiny pop moments rather than just patches of shine. It was also the moment a fallen-out and partially incomplete unity kissed and made up. The results of Robbie’s return to Take That – and Stuart Price’s involvement in it – exceeded all possible expectations.
First single “The Flood” is incredible, with its magical Barlow/Price sonic layers, but the best of Progress goes beyond the opener. The true genius of this album lies with the static “SOS” (which NEEDS to be a single), the heart breaking album winner “What Do You Want From Me”, the ELO-infused “Affirmation” (listen to it with an open mind and tell me you don’t hear it), and next single “Kidz,” with its urgently exciting marchy-bassline.
“Progress” was the reinvention of an act you’d never think really needed one. Take That were doing fine as they were, so for them to shake things up with a different approach to what they were used to – it’s exactly why the record has the title it has, and exactly why it’s one of the finest polished and greatest moments of 2010. Stuart Price also completely knocked it out of the park with his best production work in ages for this album; it’s such a huge pop triumph on so many levels, and it baffles me as to why Australian radio are so adamant in their cock-blockage of the group, yet they’ll litter the Australian public’s ears with all of that other shit they play.
“Progress” does – iconically – mark the return of Robbie Williams to the band he left all those years ago to pursue a solo career. Interestingly though, you’d expect the record to be a little Williams heavy, but it’s actually all about being Mark Owen’s moment. The other boys are there, but it’s honestly like “Progress” was more of a showcase of Owen’s vocal talents, with Williams and Barlow (more Williams) on backing-vocals. Regardless, this is the best record Take That have released.