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Take That - Progressed
After the phenomenal success achieved with reunion album Progress (it became the fastest-selling album of the century and the second fastest-selling album of all-time) Take That still refuse to rest on their laurels. The boys sure know how to treat their fans, and as they near the end of their stint as a five piece they have whipped yet another treat from up their sleeves - a double disc edition of the aforementioned LP, with 8 track mini-album Progressed thrown in for good measure. Produced by Stuart Price (who also oversaw the direction of Progress) have the boys managed to equal or outdo themselves? Read on to find out...
When We Were Young
AKA the soft and gentle one
With warm acoustic guitars the album's opener has a few country & western twangs (thanks to some subtle slides) here and there but ultimately encapsulates TT's new sound. The lads get all retrospective, musing about youth and manage to capture a gentle sound while remaining somewhat epic in their delivery. A beautiful start to what essentially is the end of Take That as we currently know them.
AKA the rave one
'Man' has a bit of a rocky start; with resounding drums leading to a rave beat and a deadpan voice spouting random words such as 'twisted' 'curious' and 'tortured' you don't really know where it's going to go from there. Finally a cohesive chorus kicks in and everything falls into place. It does sound a little like a Calvin Harris effort, which is at odds with Take That's mature, thoughtful identity but ultimately this a good song, just not quite great.
AKA the blockbuster
Robotic vocals and stomping synths immediately reminds us of Progress track 'SOS' at first but 'Love Love' has a little more light and shade, allowing the boys to weave through dark stirring verses before surfacing for air during the pop-tastic chorus. The electronic production is hand-clappingly good and lends itself nicely to the X-Men: First Class soundtrack.
The Day The Work Is Done
AKA proof of progression
Elegant strings and electronic gurgles are the order of the day here. The track begins with Mark and Robbie trading verses over the steady slow-burning production before Gary makes his charismatic arrival on the chorus, which picks up the pace and features a flurry of almost breakbeat-eque drums and dramatic violins. A typically TT example of pop goodness.
AKA the Killers tribute
As lovely as this song is, it does get a bit samey after the first chorus and you're left waiting for it progress (no pun intended). Instead it plods without any clear direction through strobing synth chord progressions which sound too alike from verse to chorus. Most strikingly, 'Beautiful' kind of reminds us of The Killers' 'Human' but less rousing.
Don't Say Goodbye
AKA the cool one
Cool, sparse and totally laid back vibes (think Kylie's 'Confide In Me') combined with grown men singing in a vulnerable falsetto - what more could we want? Nope, nothing!...A welcome lead courtesy of Gary Barlow, this is well-sung, intriguingly produced and provokes the spine-tingle reflex.
AKA the other-worldly one
Another track that successfully pulls off 'happy-go-lucky' with some dark twists and turns which crop up seamlessly throughout. We don't know how they do it but they do it well and 'Aliens' is no exception. A bit more attention given to Howard on this one too, it's a relief not to have Robbie running the show.
AKA the Pet Shop Boys
Take That have clearly been taking inspiration from their tour support act Pet Shop Boys; 'Wonderful World' has the same atmospheric electro sound and the boys' vocals are synth-drenched. Like a hug, the sound is warm and all-embracing. While this may not be our favourite track off the album we'd still happily listen to it all the way through.
Although, essentially Progressed spells the end of an incredible era for Take That, it's impossible to get too down about it in light of listening to the final fruits of their combined labour. Proving there's life in the old dogs yet, the boys have done a admirable job of evolving their sound, and remaining current without compromising the identity they've worked nearly 15 years to carve. Excellent job, boys - here's to the next era!
get every track from Progressed now:
When We Were Young :
"The lads capture a gentle yet still somewhat epic sound"
"The rave sound is at odds with Take That's mature identity"
Love Love :
"The boys weave through dark verses before surfacing for air"
The Day The Work Is Done :
"Elegant strings and electronic gurgles are order of the day"
"'Beautiful' kind of reminds us of The Killers' 'Human'"
Don't Say Goodbye :
"Features grown men singing in a vulnerable falsetto"
"It's a relief not to have Robbie running the show"
Wonderful World :
"Take That have been taking inspiration from Pet Shop Boys"