I used to not care for this album so much, but listening to it over the last week in preparation for this article, I've actually grown to appreciate it more. I still think it suffers from a bit of sameness among the songs, especially the first few, which all could be classified as mid-tempo, rock-leaning pop with quality, epic-sounding productions. But the songs are well done and enjoyable. Importantly, as pop songs they are top notch, with memorable hooks and great melodies. "Reach Out" is bright and confident; it's a shame it wasn't a single. "Patience" was the major hit, one of the group's biggest. The title track is similar to these two and could easily have been a single as well.
"Id Wait for Life" is another fine ballad; it's piano-based melody recalls the John Lennon-style ballads Oasis sometimes do, particularly their 2005 effort, "Let There Be Love." It's one of Gary's best vocal performances, and while he generally does lead vocal duty, the others all get a turn too. Mark Owen has some particular standouts, such as the swinging "Shine," the album's most uptempo moment, "Hold On," a slower song with a lush, romantic melody that recalls winter nights kept warm by the fire, and "What You Believe In," which delivers some string-laden sadness. Howard shines on "Mancunian Way" while Jason gets his first turn ever at lead vocal on folksy "Wooden Boat."
Looking back, it's amazing both how great this album is (it is among their best) and how well it did commercially, becoming by far their best-selling album and one of the 10 biggest albums of the last decade. Other bands had reunions, but none of them were nearly this successful (does anyone even remember at this point that Spice Girls reunited around the same time?). Beautiful World is a bold, confident step that credibly re-created Take That as an adult pop group. What a rare and exciting achievement.
Best: Patience, Shine, Reach Out, I'd Wait for Life, Hold On (4/5)