October 2, 2020 Melanie C – Melanie C (Album Review)
At this point in time, we pretty much all know that in the 1990s a quintet of talented ladies burst onto the scene to teach the world a little something about Girl Power. As ambassadors of female empowerment, the English Pop girl group called Spice Girls would go on to release three albums—1996’s Spice, 1997’s Spiceworld, and 2000’s Forever—and rule the world before moving onward to chase their individual dreams.
No doubt children of the ‘80s and ‘90s remember Melanie Chisholm—Sporty Spice to the layperson—not that she ever really went away. With seven LPs beneath her belt as a solo performer—a proud list that includes 1999’s Northern Star, 2007’s This Time, and 2016’s Version of Me—the Pop icon continues her prolific run with her eighth disc, the eponymous Melanie C, which arrives on Friday, October 2, 2020, via Red Girls Media Ltd.
An impressive 21 years after the release of her beloved solo debut, the global superstar has seen the world and rocked us all, and yet she’s still searching for her own inner light, which is made abundantly clear on the new, 10-song album. Offering her fans an intimate view of her heart and mind, the LP is a refreshingly honest and introspective collection of personal growth and self-acceptance. Despite its reflective qualities, however, Melanie keeps her music upbeat and positive, creating dancefloor anthems with serious heart.
And what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Such is the common thread of many of the tracks that encompass Melanie’s latest, which she opens with the candid confessional “Who I Am.” Amid glittering synth-work and thick bass-lines, the Pop siren delivers a catchy, body-moving self-empowerment nod, one that sees her making peace with herself… out on the dance floor. Perfectly setting the tone for what is to follow, “Who I Am” is the core of an album that is at all times honest but never bleak; a look at the past, present, and future of its creator.
As the body of the LP opens up, she amps up the throbbing bass and dips into the lower ranges of her vocal register for the poisonous velvet of “Blame It On Me.” Then, the ominous synths of “Good Enough” stomp, providing a yin to Melanie’s angelic vocal yang. In this, as she searches for answers and reflects on a failing relationship, the vocalist creates a wonderfully sultry dance number that is guaranteed to spice up the clubs. Meanwhile, Hip Hop cadences create the push and pull of “Escape,” and “Overload” adds some funky influences as she threatens to walk out that door if you’re not more careful with her love.
Then there are the songs like “Fearless” which are topically strong, but lack in the diamond dust of some of their contemporaries. While the track aims for glittery good feels with its throwback to ‘90s R&B, and delivers as it urges listeners to don their crowns, there is an immediacy and a fire that is lacking. So while the message is a strong one, the track is not the best representation of Melanie’s abilities to capture an audience and inspire them to have the strength to be courageous. However, the converse of this comes in the form of “Here I Am,” one of the empowerment anthems throughout the collection that takes pieces of everything on offer on Melanie C and creates a boldly unique, intrepid, and inspired number.
But she eventually returns to thick synths for the darkly alluring “Nowhere To Run,” with a slight Sci-Fi vibe. Next, pumping up the bass and injecting some delicious Funk stylings, Melanie swirls beneath the disco ball for “In And Out of Love,” as her heart aches for stability. Ultimately, this sets the tone for the intimacy of the piano and vocal ballad “End of Everything.” The end of a relationship (or situation) that leaves you numb rather than broken, the album’s grand finale sees an older, wiser Melanie sharing her experience and personal fire with her throng of dedicated listeners.
Which is really no different from the bulk of Melanie C. There is an introspection and candid quality to the LP as the vocalist tows the line between frank diary entries and infectious dance numbers. Amid all of this there’s an obvious love and a respect for all forms of Dance and Pop that sees our songbird giving off vibes that echo everyone from the Spice Girls to TLC to ABBA. Full of vulnerability, acceptance, love, and the courage to lay her soul bare, Melanie C’s latest disc goes above and beyond her humble Girl Power roots and sees the vocalist creating a soundtrack for the unstoppable woman. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Melanie C’s latest 4 of 5 stars.