Forget everything you know about the former boyband idol and king of the pop tune. This is not Robbie Williams as you've seen him before.

Those deciding to steer clear of the album after hearing the somewhat weak rap-effort that is the title track will be missing out on some very innovative new content from the pop superstar.

Williams has completely changed direction with this album, pulling in unlikely collaborators like Lily 'can do no wrong at the moment' Allen and the Pet Shop Boys – ditching the safe, mushy ballads of 'Intensive Care' in favour of funkier, more up-tempo efforts, that are downright infectious.

'Rudebox' rocks from start to finish with Williams seeming very much at home with his irreverent new style, which includes combinations of rap, electronica and synth-pop. Standouts include 'Viva Life On Mars', 'King of the Bongo' and 'The Actor'.

Where problems might lie with this album is the gulf between its content and anything that Williams has done before – challenging his fanbase to either jump on board or wave the Robbie express goodbye, and, with the negative vibes that preceded the album's release, the latter unfortunately seems more likely to win out.

Still, it's nice to see an artist taking a bit of a risk. And why not? Let's face it, his future popularity, or indeed wealth, hardly depend heavily on the success of this, which makes risk seem somewhat of an overstatement. But that aside, change is good.

Linda McGee