Take That - 'The Flood'
While it's clear that a point had to be made about Robbie's return to the musical fold, his presence in the band's first proper reunion single will have taken some careful thought. Too much Gary, and it looks like the band are admitting that Rob has only come back because he's somehow weakened by recent events. Too much Robbie, and it looks like he's basically taken over what was already a very successful band without him, and ruined it.
Too much Mark, and people are going to wonder where Gary and Robbie are.
That's not to denigrate Mark's role in Take That's recent past: he's there to add humanity and charm to what can be quite an imperious, regal pop presence if Gary is left to his own devices. Think about 'Rule The World' or 'Greatest Day' - songs with grand themes, lofty concepts, ideas above their station. Then think about 'Shine' - a song which broke down that haughty wall, and was, before it got played to death, their best post-reunion moment.
And that is partly because it was fun and partly because it was clearly a team effort. Everyone got their chance to show off a bit.
(Here's the video. That is not a comfortable look, Mr Barlow.)
Now here's 'The Flood', another epic song in which continents collide, fate and destiny arm-wrestle for control of the fortunes of the world, and moons and planets tumble out of the skies, just to stop people from dancing. It comes with an accompanying video in which the band is required to row a long way without smiling, and occasionally sing the song in their changing room in a very composed and formal manner.
It is intended to represent the colossal cultural and personal impact of the five men in the band working together again for the first time since the last time. It does this. It is also intended to leave a trail of confounded faces in its wake, and to a certain extent it does that too. I mean you would not expect to hear a song like this from Boyzone, would you?
It does, however, make being a member of Take That feel a lot like an expedition to cross the Antarctic on foot, and therefore not a lot of fun. Which is strange when you consider that their history contains no injuries, no deaths, no actual drama. Yes they were friends, yes they fell out, and now they're friends again. A hearty "hurrah" is all the situation requires, really.
Maybe the fun will return when they let Mark take the lead in a song or two.
Spin Or Bin Music says: "This is a good song and way better than I had even thought."
Orange Music says: "Take That may be greying on top and tired around the eyes, but when it comes to perfect pop, they're still the masters of their game."