It is with trepidation that I play this long-awaited third release from the Spice Girls. After all, Geri Halliwell had decamped, which seemed to be a sign of worse things to come.
Surprise – Forever may not be as bouncy and fun as Spiceworld, but it is not bad at all. Tired, maybe. And Rodney Jenkins deserves to be shot for his gratuitous “Darkchild” brand labelling all over the songs. Darkchild, my ass. But Forever isn’t a departure as much as an extension of the R&B trip of their debut album.
For instance, Weekend Love is a gentle, amazingly poppy piece of work, despite its scathing female-revenge lyrics. Holler is great with its hypnotic chorus, as is the nasty fuck-you-Geri anthem of Tell Me Why, the latter questioning if this traitor has been using them all along for her own gains. Or maybe it’s a finger salute to Mel B’s ex, Jimmy Gulzar. Who knows? All I know is that they sound great. And my, If You Wanna Have Some Fun is simply superb. It’s everything fun and moving since Who Do You Think You Are? – try not to move when you hear this, I dare you.
Stand-out ballads include the epic (but badly-worded) Let Love Lead the Way. Oxygen skirts close to elevator music territory, but beautiful harmonies and surprisingly heartfelt and mature lyrics make this a beautiful tear-jerking moment to savor.
There are missteps, such as the geriatric-sounding Right Back at Ya and Time Goes By, but still, you know what? Yes, Forever isn’t their best album, but it is still one great, fun pop album.