Robbie Williams' last album, Rudebox, went to number one in 2006
Robbie Williams is hoping to win back his crown as Britain's biggest pop star with a new album in November.
Reality Killed The Video Star will be his first release since 2006's Rudebox, which met with a tepid reception from fans and critics.
Williams described the new record as "a killer". He said listeners would hear "old Robbie, new Robbie and a Robbie that neither of us have met".
The first single from the album, Bodies, will be released on 11 October.
Writing on his blog, Williams revealed he had rewritten one of his new songs in tribute to Michael Jackson.
"[I] couldn't get a lyric to fit on one of the new songs. When he passed away I rewrote it with him in mind," he said.
The star added that he had enlisted the help of lyricist Don Black, who co-wrote one of Jackson's earliest solo hits, Ben, as well as the Bond themes Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever.
"I was having a tough time with lyrics for a little while," he wrote. "Nothing would come out.
"Don Black kindly came in and gave me a helping hand. He's the nicest legend I've ever met. I love him."
Talking about the new album, Williams said: "I really hope it's as good as I think it is. We'll see. I'm sure you'll let me know."
A video on Williams' official website contains instrumental snippets from some of his new songs.
They showcase a dramatic electro-pop sound underscored by lavish orchestral strings - not dissimilar to Trevor Horn's previous work on the Pet Shop Boys' Left To My Own Devices.
The whole album was produced by Horn, who has crafted hits for Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ABC and Seal.
Rudebox went to number one when it was released in October 2006, but is his lowest-selling solo album to date.
However, record label EMI said that, in that same year, he sold 1.6 million tickets in one day for his tour and went on to play to a total of 3.7 million people.
Three years earlier, his three nights at Knebworth saw him play to over 365,000 people.
Williams has largely kept a low profile since, living in Los Angeles with girlfriend Ayda Field.
Explaining his absence, he recently said: "I thought after the last album came out, things seem to be on the turn, perception wise.
"So I decided to try and stay out of the proverbial limelight for a while. And God knows I've found the old big head routine to be running a bit thin, so I don't blame anybody else feeling the same way.
"As an old manager used to say to me, 'you lads need to go away and cause a vacuum'. I've been vacuuming... and it coincided with me finding someone very special."
In fact, the star concentrated so hard on staying out of the limelight, even the US press noticed.
"If you find a way of not getting papped, they think you've died - which is exactly what my friend was asked outside my house in LA one day," he said.
Take That fans are hoping to see Williams return to the band
While he has been away, Williams has seen his old band, Take That, return to huge acclaim.
Their latest release, The Circus, is one of the best-selling albums of the last 12 months, and they recently completed the biggest tour the UK has ever seen, playing to more than one million people.
Meanwhile, there is speculation about Williams' future career path after his record deal with EMI expires.
He signed the deal in 2002 for a reported £80m, boasting that it had made him "rich beyond my wildest dreams".
But this will be his last original album under the contract. He could sign another record deal or release future material on his own without a label, as Radiohead did in 2007.
He has been seen at meetings of the Featured Artists Coalition, a pressure group advising artists how to flex their rights, gain control of their music and maximise the money they can make, with or without record labels.
At the start of the year, Williams' co-manager David Enthoven said: "The elephant needs to leave the room, the elephant being the record company."
Fellow co-manager Tim Clark said: "The old-fashioned record company deal is not something Robbie Williams would consider".
"It makes no sense for him to do that. He would expect us, with his full input, to construct something that is right for him," he said.
In January 2008, it was reported that Williams was "on strike" from EMI because his management team were unhappy with the take-over of the company by private equity firm Terra Firma, and had doubts about how well the label could release and promote an album.