Intensive Care

Studio Album by released in 2005

Intensive Care review

New album and new creative partnership for Robbie Williams

Two years of continuous writing and recording later, Robbie Williams returns with Intensive Care. Williams' sixth studio album marks a new stage in the career of Britain's favorite popular entertainer. Severed from his former right hand man, songwriter Guy Chambers, Intensive Care sees him forging a new partnership with former Lilac Time stalwart Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy. The pair was wildly experimental, creating songs that sounded, variously, like Gang Of Four, Bloc Party and Kraftwerk, before finally settling on a style that they felt most comfortable with. Intensive Care is overwhelming in its pureness of personality. It couldn't come from anyone else, dysfunctional, showy, telling stories about women he doesn't understand, relationships he can't function in, paranoia and isolation, all with a strangely positive and exciting spin. Williams is putting more self-reflection and understanding in his music than ever before, and he's a rich seam of material. As you would expect, he's not short of the hi-budget surrounding support of cellos, gospel choirs, and brass. And Duffy is surely the reason behind the new honesty and eloquence, and more interesting and inventive songs that convincingly capture about 50 different genres.

Intensive Care is the evidence that Williams is maturing as an artist

The album was recorded in Robbie's bedroom high in the Hollywood Hills. For the first time, Williams launched his disc with a live show outside of the UK. The concert took place in the heart of Europe at Velodrom, Berlin on October 9th. Intensive Care is the long awaited evidence that pop's chirpiest son is actually maturing as an artist. The dramatic, sprawling opener Ghosts and elegant, chiming Spread Your Wings demonstrate Duffy's enduring melodic indie influence, and both are mercifully free of the tongue-in-cheek lyrics Robbie normally reverts to when he can't think of a decent rhyme. He's not totally forgotten how to be cheeky though, teasing the media's fascination with his own sexuality on the amusingly titled Your Gay Friend while Make Me Pure is a country-tinged ballad that could finally consign Angels to the past. Elsewhere there's The Rolling Stones influenced rocker A Place To Crash, which should get the Zippos flaming, while Sin Sin Sin sounds like Donna Summer discovering rock music. There're plenty of classic Robbie tracks, from the ballad-tastic Advertising Space to the public confessional of The Trouble With Me.

A great rock record and the best album of Mr. Williams career to date

You can't help but feel that Mr. Williams has a point to make with this album, to all the people who said he'd be nothing without Guy Chambers; if that is the case, he couldn't have gone about it a better way than by serving up the best album of his career to date. It's a great rock record, packed with luxurious string hooks and chunky guitars, but the winning ingredient is Robbie's grown-up songs, which retain a strong pop appeal without ever relying on half-baked gimmicks. Intensive Care rewards repeated listening, but it's the least immediate, least "pop", of Robbie’s albums. Few tracks leap out as singles. And he is, possibly, a big enough star for this not to matter. But how many people will actually want a "mature" Robbie Williams album? We shall see.