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ALBUM REVIEW: Take That take us to ‘Wonderland’

On Friday, Take That released their brand new studio album, Wonderland. The album is the band’s eighth studio album and their second as a three-piece.

Since its release, fans have been celebrating and spreading the word about the album on social media. The lovely bunch at @TT_promoteam have been at the forefront of numerous promotional campaigns for the album, including starting the hashtags  and  . Fans from across the world have been sharing pictures of themselves with the album, proving that Take That fever is still alive and well. There’s also been numerous other campaigns and promotions from other Thatters across various social platforms, showing that TT’s fans are as fiercely loyal as ever.

There is certainly a huge buzz around the album on social media, but what does the Wonderland era bring us? After a few listens, Wonderland proves to be a very different album from our favourite manband. From start to finish, we’re taken on a brand new Take That journey, with Gary, Mark and Howard showing that they’re not afraid of experimenting with alternative sounds.

Here at CelebMix, we thought we would share a track-by-track review and give you the lowdown on Take That’s Wonderland!

1. ‘Wonderland’

Kicking off proceedings with the album’s title track, a mysterious and hypnotic tone is set from the off. With a subtle beat, sitar and an Indian-inspired vibe, there is almost a minute and a half worth of intro before Gary’s vocals kick in. The chorus is the track’s highlight, providing us with a catchy beat and feel-good lyrics. ‘Wonderland’ is a solid track to start off the album, and gives a small insight into the the musical style we can expect throughout. Thanks to its long intro, we can definitely foresee it being used as the opening track during their Wonderland tour!

2. ‘Giants’

‘Giants’ was the first track to be released from the album, and combines elements of a new Take That sound, with the anthemic quality that we know and love them for. Synths and strings are heavily used during the song, bringing the track into the modern day. Aside from the soaring choruses, if you compare ‘Giants’ to 2006 comeback single ‘Patience’, it shows just how much the band has evolved musically over recent years.

3. ‘New Day’

The third track is ‘New Day’, which on first listen is simply a pleasant song. The lyrics are quite basic, “wake up it’s a brand new day/everybody’s going to sing the storm away/so come along and lead the way”, however, the song is full of optimism. We love the use of strings in the second half, but in our minds this song is more of a grower than anything else.

4. ‘Lucky Stars’

‘Lucky Stars’ is a funky, electronic offering which injects energy into the album. The track is Daft Punk inspired, but also reminds us of Busted’s new material, and the transition they’ve made as a group. Again, ‘Lucky Stars’ is synth heavy and is combined with a dreamy melody and 80s vibe which is satisfying to the ear.

5. ‘And The Band Plays’

The fifth Wonderland track is another great offering from the trio. ‘As The Band Plays’ is irresistibly catchy and builds into a powerful crescendo  – the brass near the end sounds incredible. We definitely need to hear this song with a live band on tour! It’s safe to say that this is one of our favourite Wonderland tracks.

6. ‘Superstar’

It’s Mark’s turn to take lead vocals on the sixth track, ‘Superstar’. The first verse/chorus of the song remains fairly stripped back, before an infectious beat kicks in. As the second chorus approaches, the familiar anthemic TT vibe is present. This continues to grow towards the end of the song, where it becomes guitar heavy and powerful. ‘Superstar’ is one of the standout album tracks, and one of our favourite Mark-led songs in recent years.

7. ‘Hope’

‘Hope’ is the heartfelt ballad we’ve been waiting for on the album. Reminiscent of ‘Flaws’ from III, ‘Hope’ allows Gary’s vocals to shine throughout. However, instead of remaining at one level, the song grows in strength throughout thanks to the addition of strings and backing vocals from Howard and Mark. An anthemic vibe is ever present, and we can already picture some dramatic choreography on stage, should the band decide to perform ‘Hope’ on tour.

8. ‘River’

‘River’ is an uptempo, Mark-led track, which is very catchy to the ear. We love the occasional use of jungle drums, as it adds another dimension to the song. It’s so easy to imagine songs like ‘River’ being a phenomenal spectacle during a show. In fact, a key theme throughout the album is that a lot of the songs seem to have been written with the tour in mind from the off. Our minds are already racing!

9. ‘The Last Poet’

The anthemic chorus is ever present during ‘The Last Poet’. There’s a simplicity to the lyrics (“But for you I can’t find words // But for you there are no words”), however, the song’s strength is its powerful melody, which is quite Coldplay-esque. Again, this will be an incredible song to hear live on tour, so fingers crossed that ‘The Last Poet’ is on the setlist!

10. ‘Every Revolution’

At last, a Howard lead! ‘Every Revolution’ reminds us a little of their Progress album track, ‘Affirmation’, albeit a lot more relaxed. The vocals glide effortlessly over the electronic beat, creating a generally nice vibe. After a few listens, it’s not a particularly stand out track, however, it’s a good song nonetheless.

11. ‘It’s All For You’

If we had to pick a least favourite track from the album, it would be this one. Normally we’re a big fan of ballads, but sadly we’re just not as taken with it as the rest of the album. The track does however have a big ending, which is rather superb. We’re hopefully putting ‘It’s All For You’ down as a grower – it could definitely be a stunning ‘light-up-the-arena’ moment on tour. The track as a whole provides a very melancholic ending to the standard edition of the album, but is saved by the powerful ending.

12. ‘Don’t Give Up On Me’

Here at CelebMix, we can’t resist a deluxe version of any album, so we’re pleased to find four more offerings on Wonderland deluxe. ‘Don’t Give Up On Me’ is a trippy 80’s inspired offering, oozing a synth sound from the off. We’re not too sure what to make of this song – it’s not one of our standout favourites but there’s something so hypnotic about it. It’s definitely an example of Take That pushing their musical boundaries.

13. ‘Up’

‘Up’ is another lead song for Mark, but falls short against ‘Superstar’ and ‘River’. However, following on from ‘Don’t Give Up On Me’, it works well in providing a contrast and showing a simpler side to the band. It’s a pleasant song nonetheless and could well be a grower.

14. ‘Come On Love’

The penultimate song is a hidden gem on the deluxe album. Channeling some Tom Odell vibes, ‘Come On Love’ grows into a stunning song with a powerful chorus. The instrumental and vocals are both so strong – it’s a shame that it wasn’t included in the standard edition of album. When the band come together, it sounds almost choir/gospel like, which sent a shiver down our spines. Come On TT, make sure you perform this on tour! It’s a song which deserves all the exposure.

15. ‘Cry (Sigma Feat. Take That)’

To round off the deluxe album, we’re treated to the dance anthem ‘Cry’, a collaboration between Take That and Sigma which was released last year. In all honesty, this track was so underrated, and deserved a lot more attention than what it received. Whilst it’s a different sound to what we normally associate Take That with, it shows their versatility as a band and we wish more of the album had followed a similar sound. We had the pleasure of seeing TT perform ‘Cry’ live at BST Hyde Park last year, and it was truly electric. It’s a thumping song to take us home after a marvellous trip to Wonderland.

Overall, Take That have proven that they’re not shy when it comes to delivering something different. Some critics have slated Wonderland, however, looking at their back catalogue, Take That must be applauded for their musical bravery. It would have been easy for them to churn out the same type of songs as they did during their comeback years, or even during their first round of success. However, Gary, Mark and Howard have opted to push their musical boundaries, by evolving and taking inspiration from current sounds.

Of course, there’s still plenty of elements (such as soaring choruses) in the songs which scream out Take That, yet they’ve also brought something new and refreshing to the table. This is not The Circus, Beautiful World, ProgressIII or any other previous Take That album. This is Wonderland, which is a magically mysterious trip full of synths, simple but effective lyrics and some gorgeous melodies.

Our standout tracks are ‘And The Band Plays’, ‘Superstar’, ‘River’ and ‘Come On Love’. Whilst not every song is as instantly likeable as the other, the album flows perfectly from one song to the next, showing that great consideration was taken with regards to the placement of album tracks. We’re now even more geared up for the Wonderland tour, which is certainly going to be a spectacle worth seeing! Thank you Take That for continuing to take risks with your music, even after being in the business for so long.

Haven’t heard Wonderland yet? Be your own judge by taking a listen to the album below.

Let us know your thoughts on Take That’s Wonderland on Twitter @CelebMix. Don’t forget to check out their Comic Relief Carpool Karaoke with James Corden too!

PHOTO: Polydor Records

Written by Katrina Rees

I'm Katrina, or Kat to pretty much everyone. I'm an editor for CelebMix, a content writer, a boyband lover and an all round music fanatic.
Twitter: @lifeofkatrina
Email: [email protected]