A look back from pop's elder statesmen...
'Odyssey'

It’s hard to believe that Take That have been a band for almost 30 years. An omnipresent force to be reckoned with, they were serving us bona-fide disco bops whilst the angsty Seattle grunge scene penetrated the mainstream in the 90s. Whilst bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam set to destabilise the manufactured pop industry, Take That prospered amidst it to serve pre-teen glitter pop, and cut shapes on the MTV dance floor. Fast-forward a couple of decades and they are a national treasure, split-ups and reunions aside. Next Year marks their 30th Anniversary, as they embark upon a colossal European stadium tour following the release of ‘Odyssey’, which is their greatest hits album with a twist, reworking lots of their classics and adding some new tunes to the mix.

Upon first listen, it's natural to gravitate immediately towards their new songs, which take Clash pleasantly by surprise. A personal highlight is ‘Out of Our Heads’, as Barlow and co pay homage to the jumpin-jazz era of the 50’s. Here, they give us a fun-loving track that channels the spirit of Paolo Nutini’s 'Pencil Full Of Lead', and thrusts upon us the shoulder-shimmies of Ray Charles’ 'Hit The Road Jack'. The vocal offerings are impressive here, oozing soul and exemplifying their talent as a band whose legacy is decades in the making. Their other new tracks don’t quite pack as impactful a punch, however pose as easy on the ears, as ‘Spin’ and ‘Everlasting’ provide us with wholesome pop goodness, albeit forgettable in the long run.

In terms of their remixes, there are some tracks that could have been left alone and untampered with. In relation to ‘Everything Changes’, Barlow stated in an interview that ‘all we kept on was Robbie’s original vocals’ , exchanging the disco pop sensibilities of the original track with a tightly orchestrated brass ensemble. I’m unsure about this move, as although it adds a touch of class to an otherwise stereotypical 90’s pop song, the essence of it’s cheesy groove was what embodied the success of the track, leaving me questioning how this will transcribe for old-school fans.

The remixed versions of tracks like ‘Rule The World’ however, feel more polished, and in this instance add a more whimsical depth to the song. It’s haunting orchestral flourishes enable a more suspenseful build to the chorus, encapsulating the track’s nostalgic magic. On tour, this will no doubt be the ambient climax of each night - just picture thousands of iPhone torches setting stadiums ablaze. The authentic remix of ‘Relight My Fire’ also professes a more authentic sound, it’s bassline granting a 70’s funk explosion that captivates the eardrums and lulls you into a boogie, even more so than the original.

On a whole, Take That still reign supreme in the pop pantheon, acting as that lavish flow of prosecco at your work Christmas party, as that coveted purple sweet in the Quality Street box. They have far surpassed their sell-by date of typical manufactured pop groups, and ‘Odyssey’ only only confirms their longevity as a music act. Although not something that a younger audience would seek to pursue, they stand to entertain their older fans as intended, and rejuvenate classics which add a pleasing new layer to their sound.

7/10

Words: Chloe Waterhouse

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