Picks and Pans Review: Forever
Now that their original fan base is mulling grad school, the 20 percent-downsized Spice Girls (in their first album without Geri Halliwell) are cooing so many come-ons in this third go-round, they should have called it Girls Just Want to Have Sex. Except on the reunited-and-it-feels-so-good lyrics of "Right Back at Ya" (which showcases a fun cockney rap by Melanie "Mel B" Brown), the Girl Power theme is gone. Instead, there are lines like "There's only one thing on my mind, and you're gonna find out tonight," punctuated by heavy-breathing asides ("Yeah, right") from a male voice. Is he supposed to be the narrator? A deejay? An obscene phone caller who happened to wander into the recording studio?
Having inspired Britney, the boy bands and many a wannabe, the Girls' once-fresh sound is becoming old Spice: Take '60s harmonizing, add '80s Janet Jackson ("Get Down with Me," a sure club hit, has a "Nasty" touch) and throw in some hip-hop beats and electronic effects. But the result is still zesty, particularly on "If U Wanna Have Some Fun," which revives the lush, less jumpy dance-pop sound of the early '80s; the disco-inflected "Wasting My Time"; and the bouncy single "Holler." Too bad the ballads not so boldly go where the Bangles have gone before.
Bottom Line: Another good thyme