In “Days I Hate Myself,” the sixth song on Take That’s ninth album, the members Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, and Mark Owen explore ska music. This may come as a surprise on an album that takes unexpected directions, considering the band’s established presence in UK pop music.
This Life was primarily recorded in Nashville and New York and breaks away from the generic synth-pop sound of the previous albums III and Wonderland. Instead, it centers on a blend of 70s MOR and country-inspired pop-rock reminiscent of Elton John. The title track features rich harmonies and lively piano playing, while the single Windows combines a classic, catchy chorus by Barlow with delicate acoustic guitar and grand, sweeping strings.
Unfortunately, this album follows the trend of the frontman’s recent efforts to involve other band members in the songwriting process. Owen’s gloomy track “The Champion” and Donald’s lackluster “One More Word” both wander aimlessly in search of a catchy melody. The final song, led by Barlow, “Where We Are” ends the album on a strong note. However, while the band’s desire to grow and change is commendable, the outcome is undeniably inconsistent.