Progress – Take That – 2011
First listen?: No
You thought I would stop writing about Take That didn’t you? It’s quite funny that they have two albums with such close sales totals, especially considering both are albums that feature the full 5 piece lineup. Robbie’s return to the band was arguably as exciting as the reunion in the first place. The album and subsequent tour broke records across the board, where it was the fastest selling album of the decade right up until Adele’s 25 last year. It’s interesting the huge success that Progress saw despite having just one typical ‘Take That’ song, opener and lead single The Flood. That song’s soaring chorus which sees Robbie effortlessly return to the fold as if the previous 15 years hadn’t happened. The rest of Progress is 100% a ‘New’ Take That, Robbie channels Freddie Mercury on Underground Machine, while What Do You Want From Me and Affirmation see Mark and Howard deliver dance tracks to varying degrees of success. At the time it was a stark change from the familiar, but consistently great Circus that preceded it and for me Progress stands out as the weakest post Reunion Take That album. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Howard and Jason especially, who’s best solo performance to date on Flowerbed gets relegated to ‘Hidden Track’ status. It’s telling that the re-release that happened just 7 months later (Progressed) featured a number of standout Mark and Gary songs, most notably the should-have-been-a-single Don’t Say Goodbye. Progress is Take That (Feat. Robbie Williams) and in the end both of those things are pretty great.
Will I listen again?: Definitely. The day I stop listening to Take That albums will be a sad day indeed.
Best Track: Some of the best tracks on Progress, closer Eight Letters, Flowerbed and Kidz are actually the ones that Robbie doesn’t sing lead. For me though I have to go with The Flood which made it seem like Take That would forever be a 5 piece. (Just ignore the fact that there’s only 3 of them left in 2016)