It’s been a while since we’ve really heard from Robbie Williams. His last album Swings Both Ways was released in 2013, and focused entirely on swing music; it’s been even longer since we’ve had a pop release, with Take the Crown being released in 2012. Almost as if he’s seeking to make up for lost time, Williams has covered a lot of ground on Heavy Entertainment Show, and unfortunately it doesn’t always land on its feet.
The major issues with Heavy Entertainment Show are clear early into the album. The album’s title track aims for jazz as it opens its chorus with blaring horns and banging percussion, while he quickly moves onto pop rock on Mixed Signals and the following tracks before once again switching gears as he attempts synthpop on Sensitive and follows it up with a ballad in David’s Song. This is without mentioning the album’s lead single, Party Like a Russian; in this case, its sluggish pace and lack of a real hook fail to generate much interest in the long run. The album casts a wide net on styles it wants to cover, and none of them land in any particularly convincing manner.
Writing also proves to be an issue for the album. The title track, Heavy Entertainment Show, features a clumsy chorus that crams too much into a short space with little finesse to even out the kinks, and while the attack on Russia’s political climate in Party Like a Russian reads as an attempt at a funny jab, it doesn’t get very far either. The album’s most enjoyable moments are its final three tracks, with the jazzy numbers Hotel Crazy with Rufus Wainwright and Sensational stealing the show.
Outside of these two songs, however, Heavy Entertainment Show is a mess that never truly manages to sort itself out. Rather than focusing on a few select styles that Williams can cover well and creating a solid cohesive album out of them, they opted to aim for the masses and instead cast too wide a net for their own good. Heavy Entertainment Show is an unfortunate situation where too little focus means the downfall of the entire package.