Melanie C

This Time

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This Time around, Melanie C has decided to abandon any pretense that she either makes sprightly dance-pop or that she was once known as "Indie Spice" and devotes herself entirely to smooth, pseudo-sophisticated adult pop, the kind of stuff that's ideal for background music at dinner parties consisting of nothing but small plates. There are traces of Coldplay and muted Robbie Williams, along with a fair sampling of Texas and Dido, and it's all blended together into something that's sleek but not stylish, atmospheric without being moody, melodic without being hooky. Melanie C does just fine as a vocalist -- her thin voice has gained some character, she's learned how to milk turns of phrases to give them the appearance of emotion -- but the songs are so middle-brow mid-tempo that it's hard to care for such subtle innovations. Only when the failed single "I Want Candy" comes around as a bonus track at the end does the pulse quicken, but by that point it's too late: the album has long since done its job and lulled listeners into a soothing sleep.

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