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Released: 6th November 2000.

Spice Girls - ForeverSince their return to the music business as a group after their successful solo outings, the girls have already had the nation hollering to their double a-side smash single. But what about the rest of the album?

From the first play, it's clear to see that this isn't the same group we once knew. Bid farewell to pure pop chart toppers and screaming five year old fans and say hello to funky, hard-edged R&B with a helping of smooth, harmonic vocals.

Many long-time fans of the group may not have even recognised them on this album had it not been for Mel C's distinct vocals and Mel B's unique rapping style. Does the album really stand up next to the hugely successful previous two?

Well, yes and no. You're not likely to see a repeat of every primary school in the country being full of miniature Spice Girls (most complete with Geri's infamous Union Jack dress), but don't expect the group to die away just yet. This is a whole new level of Spice Girls, and believe me, they'll be coming 'right back at ya'.

Some songs here aren't too dissimilar from their previous form. "If You Wanna Have Some Fun" is a fine example, proving that they've still got some of that 'girl power' which helped them so much early on in their career. But the rockier R&B numbers are much more superior here, and this is the direction you should expect them to take from here on.

Stand out songs include the fantastic "Right Back At Ya", the slower "Weekend Love" and, of course, the fantastic 1998 Christmas number one, "Goodbye".

When these girls first bounced onto the music scene a few years ago, few would have expected such a musically credible album from them just a few years down the line - many even doubted they'd last this long. But it's happened, and this is definitely the best album they have ever produced.

* * * * (DS)

They named their third album "Forever," which is very appropriate, seeing as they have been away like, forever! Being a Spice Girls fan, I was really looking forward to hearing their new songs. I wanted to love this album as much as the previous two, but, to be honest, that hasn't happened.

It's fairly good, but not the Spice Girls we have known. I feel that Spice Girls fans will be disappointed as there are not enough pop songs. Only one is true pop, "If U Wanna Have Some Fun," which happens to be a great feel good song. I love the "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" bit.

They wanted to get popular in the US again, and it shows. A lot of the songs are R&B based, especially "Holler" and "Get Down With Me."

The girls' voices have definitely grown stronger. "Time Goes By" is a beautiful ballad, which, no doubt, could be a single. "Oxygen" is another ballad that is catchy and well written. The album includes the great song, "Goodbye", however I'm not sure why they put it on this album, seeing as it was the Christmas No. 1 in 1998!

All in all it's not a bad album, but I don't think the teeny bopper fans aged around four to twelve will think much of it, as the Spice Girls have certainly grown up. There are some good tracks on it, and about four out of eleven of which will be potential No. 1s.

Even though I'm a bit disappointed with the album, the girls haven't done a bad job. I'm sure their reign as No. 1 Girl Group will continue for for a little while yet! If someone asked me which group to choose in the battle of the bands between the Spice Girls and Westlife, it would be Spice Girls every time!

* * * (Sarah Hodges)

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