Album Reviews

Melanie C – This Time

(Red Girl) UK release date: 2 April 2007

Melanie C - This Time Considering the Spice Girls were, by a considerable distance, the biggest pop group on the planet at one stage, it’s extraordinary to see how far they’ve fallen, a decade after their heyday.

Geri Halliwell is more famous for appearing in weekly glossy celebrity magazines than, well doing anything else. Mel B is caught up in a bizarre paternity battle with none other than Eddie Murphy. Victoria Beckham has become the WAG of all WAGs of course, while Emma Bunton was last seen in a reality TV show and recently announced she’d had enough of the music business after the poorly received Life In Mono (actually, not that bad an album as it happens).

So what of the erstwhile Sporty Spice aka Melanie Chisholm? At one stage, it looked like she was set to become the Spice most likely to – always the best singer in the group, singles such as Never Gonna Be The Same and I Turn To You were huge hits, and she even seemed to gain the holy grail of a former manufactured pop idol, that of an adult audience.

It wasn’t to last though – Virgin Records unceremoniously dropped her after the under-performing second solo album Reason, and the first release on her own Red Girl label, Beautiful Intentions, failed to unduly trouble the charts.

As any Liverpool FC fan will tell you though, you can’t keep a good Scouser down, and Chisholm has returned with This Time. Whether it’s a comeback of seismic Istanbul proportions is debatable, but it’s good to see at least one former Spice still bothering with music.

Expectations were rather dampened though by the single I Want Candy, a truly dreadful cover version of the Bow Wow Wow song which featured a very odd trumpet section and Chisholm reciting the lyrics as if embarrassed by the whole thing. It’s shoved on the end here as a rather sheepish ‘bonus track’ – if you must have this song, then download the original.

Chisholm fares a lot better with her own material, which while being nothing revolutionary, is mostly pleasant pop/rock. Chisholm’s voice is strong and distinctive, and suited to most of the songs here, and she gels well with Adam Argyle, a Leeds songwriter who contributes some of the best tracks here, such as the pretty, shimmering What If I Stay.

Argyle also duets with Chisholm on Don’t Let Me Go, possibly the best track on the album, but you do get the impression that this is going to do his career more good than hers. For a lot of This Time is bland and forgettable, albeit very professionally played and sung. There’s nothing here that you wouldn’t get done better by someone like Natalie Imbruglia, and songs such as the title track and Your Mistake are extremely forgettable.

The obligatory big piano ballad, The Moment You Believe has the requisite stirring strings and piano chords, but it’s lacking any personality. It sounds like the single that whoever wins the X Factor would release at Christmas – in fact, I’d better stop there in case Simon Cowell is reading this and we have it foisted upon us towards the tail end of this year.

At 13 tracks, This Time is far too long as well and a few tracks could easily have been pruned (starting with that Bow Wow Wow cover). It’s a shame, but this album won’t be the one to propel a Spice Girl back to the top of the charts.

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More on Melanie C
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Melanie C – The Sea
Melanie C – This Time
Melanie C – Reason