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Robbie Williams
ESCAPOLOGY
(VIRGIN)

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You may know Robbie Williams from British boy band Take That, or as the drunken lout who used to hang out with Noel Gallagher. Perhaps you recall his 1997 debut album, Life thru a Lens, which featured the affecting ballad " Angels. " Unafraid to push beyond pop convention (he even did an album of Rat Packish covers), heís a dynamo whose career trajectory has depended as much on ambition as on talent.

How far can determination take you? Until now, the answer for Williams would have been to the top. But Escapology is a collection of repetitive, trite, clichéíd, grandiose pop songs performed with an almost cynical view of his market worth. Williams is a decent, sometimes impassioned singer, often recalling a bolder Elton John, but even his pumped-up declarations canít save this faceless batch of pop fodder. Although he croons winningly on a few standout tracks ( " Feel, " for one), itís not a coherent album. The songs range from Rod Stewartish polished pop ( " How Peculiar " ) to macho psychedelia ( " Revolution " ) to Brit-pop balladry ( " Sexed Up " ) to Bon Jovi anthemics ( " Get a Little High " ). And since Williams wrote all the material, he has to take responsibility for lyrics like " With love in your eyes and a flame in your heart " and " Always and forever, is forever young/Your shadow on the pavement, the dark side of the sun. "

BY KEN MICALLEF

Issue Date: May 2 - 8, 2003
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