He says that he’s ready to take on the world again, to take on the pop star persona that could so easily have been the death of him.
But this time out Robbie Williams is also a 38-year-old dad; he’s eaten humble pie with his old Take That team-mates, and he doesn’t have a desperate need to prove himself.
Cue a comfortably upbeat album with just the right amount of rock and roll edge to temper the occasional outbreak of pop nostalgia.
Here’s the track by track verdict:
Be A Boy: Smooth sax ushers in an unassuming song underlaid with a sneaky stadium singalong chant for subliminal success. 3/5
Gospel: Handclap pop rides retro rock-a-boogie guitar, then rolls out the red carpet for a cinematic widescreen chorus. 3/5
Candy: You've already heard the single, written with Gary Barlow. It's soda pop, finger-clicking, summer pop with 1950s flavour. 2/5
Different: The first ballad. "This time I'll be different, I promise you," he sings. "This time I'll be special – you know I will." Huge hit. 5/5
Shit On The Radio: Not going to get much airplay! Pop playing at rock, complete with cheesy synth straight out of Europe's Final Countdown. 2/5
All That I Want: Robbie’s been listening to U2 again. Thriller-style beat adds scuzzy guitar, a suggestive lyric and Bono vocal curve. 4/5
Hunting For You: Oddly familiar, perhaps borrowing from an earlier incarnation, it's more U2-lite complete with Edge informed Coca-Cola bubble guitar. Good song. 4/5
Into The Silence: Musically the most accomplished track on the album, again with a hint of U2 before building to a Coldplay clone crescendo. 3/5
Hey Wow Yeah Yeah: You've got to love this punchy post-punk pop, which recalls Plastic Bertrand's classic Ca Plane Pour Moi. 4/5
Not Like The Others: Cheeky upbeat pop rooted in rock and roll. With the hook 'You and me are not like the others' it'll be a huge hit. 4/5
Losers: Robbie saves the best till last, a jangly semi-plugged duet with alt.folkie Lissie. Lyrically it's the confession that fame isn't everything. Musically, it's proof that an old Rob can learn new tricks. 5/5
Overall a good album, more mainstream than Rudebox and Reality Killed The Video Star. Just don't expect another Let Me Entertain You or Angels.
That was then, this is now.