Having broken up professionally with Guy Chambers (I hear Robbie Williams became too possessive of poor Mr Chambers and the poor sod just has to let go – if you love someone, set them free, that sort of thing), the perpetually self-absorbed Robbie Williams is back with Intensive Care. Here, the helm of the productions is taken over by Mr Williams alongside Keith Duffy of Lilac Time. A taste of what is to come could be had from the last hit from this fellow, Radio, which is a watered-down Queen wannabe track. Indeed, Intensive Care is a melodramatic hodge-podge of everything rock from the 1980s masterfully blended together. Never are the borrowed influences more blatant than when U2, circa The Joshua Tree, is everywhere on Sin Sin Sin.
Still, despite Robbie Williams’ trying to be the new Franz Ferdinand, this CD has more hits than misses. Please Don’t Die is simultaneously tender, haunting, and cheeky while Sin Sin Sin is reminiscent of U2’s best works. I have my doubts about Robbie Williams trying to sound like Alison Moyet on Tripping but the chorus is too catchy for its own good. The Trouble with Me resembles too much of something REM would come out with but like too many REM tracks, this one sticks to the mind and just won’t let go.
On the other hand, Mr Williams is really coming close to being as obnoxious as Morrissey when it comes to flogging his “I’m a heartless self-absorbed lover who will only hurt you” image in his songs. Sure, lines like “Here I stand victorious – the only man who made you come” (Ghosts) can make me smile in how wickedly appropriate such naughty sentiments can be in the context of the song, but when nearly every song is a whiny lamentation about what a heartless bastard he is and how he sometimes feel bad that he can’t stop being one, it’s like I’m getting a whiff of someone’s dirty laundry deliberately waved at my face. And the thing about dirty laundry is that more often than not, it’s something I have no interest of knowing at a more intimate level. Unfortunately, here dear Mr Williams doesn’t just beat my head with his me-me-me complex, he wants to make a career out of it. While Your Gay Friend is pretty witty with its lyrics where he tells this woman that if she doesn’t want to ruin her marriage with another man by having an affair with him, he can still be her gay buddy, so to speak, in the eyes of the world, the incessant one-note thing he sings about on this CD becomes tedious. Yes, I get it, he’s the best lover I’ll ever have even as he’d break my heart like nobody can, so how about a different kind of song?
While Robbie Williams, with a bravado that is fast becoming tedious after so many years of having to listen to his crap, announces at the end of the day that he is King Of Bloke and Bird, Intensive Care is more appropriately the showcase of a guy with more bravado than substance paying tribute to the best of musical influences in the 1980s and doing it well. Catchy musical confection is one thing I can’t resist, however, so I’ll keep this CD on my player a little longer, with my ears of course tuning out most of the vapid psychobabble Mr Williams is passing off as the lyrics of his songs.