Mark doesn't shine on his own
Album Review: Mark Owen The Art of Doing Nothing (Polydor) HHIII
Mark Owen has been talking candidly of late about his fears that he may not be the best of songwriters. Is he, one might wonder, little more than a pretty face in a boy – or, more accurately, man – band?
This fourth album – and first in eight years – suggests he is still struggling to be heard outside the confines of Take That. The Art of Doing Nothing demonstrates that while his pop instincts, at least, are present and correct, without the foil of a Gary Barlow or Robbie Williams, he has difficulty making then stand out.
There's something terribly slight about his breezily arranged songs and the feeling that few would make it to a Take That album is exacerbated by the weakness of his vocals.
There is a reason, after all, that Owen rarely takes lead vocals when Barlow and Williams are with him.
Nevertheless, Owen's inherent likability shines through and in a handful of those 1960s-influenced moments, one feels gold-dust is within his grasp.
The news that a new Take That album will soon be recorded will be lapped up by fans of the band – including those immune to their earlier incarnation – yet it only serves to make this Owen fancy even less essential.
KEY TRACK Stars
Day & Night