Chrysalis - 2002 - 74 minutes

80 million pounds… nice. Dropping artists from a record label is so passé; rewarding them is much more inspiring. Throughout 2002 we've seen plenty of Mr Williams - through the tabloids' eyes - hanging out in LA, but we've heard little from the horse's mouth, until now. Always renowned for making a statement (in his own inimitable way), the hype surrounding Williams is so big these days, he just has to open his mouth and the media listens. If it wasn’t for this, Williams would not be the star he is today, as much as he tries to refute it.

This 'star' quality enhances each and every album he delivers and remains the backbone of his success-to-date. As with previous albums, 'Escapology' acts as a diary of his life at that time; these fourteen tracks reveal a grounded Williams, content but ever-searching, troubled but ever-smiling.

First single 'Feel' is the somewhat average result of the usual rousing chemistry between Williams and long-time songwriting partner Guy Chambers. Its simple rhymes create a false insight into what the album is all about. Lyrically, this is Williams' strongest album yet. There's no 'Rock DJ' or 'Millennium', but every track is a joy to listen to, and his forthcoming live appearances will be testament to that.

There's a definite lingering of elements of 'Swing When You're Winning'. The production is deliberately simple but tenderly effective. 'Revolution' and 'Sexed Up' are two beautiful examples of this. The old cheeky Robbie comes through on tracks like 'Me And My Monkey' and 'Handsome Man' – "… Have I gone up in the world or has the world gone down on me …"

All this combines to make a fine album and one which he himself is deservedly proud of. Well done, Mr Williams, here's a cheque for 80 million pounds, give us more of the same.

David Byrne

Tracklisting: How Peculiar - Feel - Something Beautiful - Monsoon - Sexed Up - Love Somebody - Revolution - Handsome Man - Come Undone - Me And My Monkey - Song 3 - Hot Fudge - Curse - Nan's Song