It's time to dip our judgemental spoon into the musical ice cream tub that is this week's other new album releases. Who is a fudge swirl with hundreds and thousands and who will be our pomegranate frozen yoghurt?
This week sees the return of Melanie C, 'Sporty Spice' to her... what, friends? Who knows? Anyhow, new album Version Of Me is her seventh solo studio album and her first in four years. I think it is possible that Spice by the Spice Girls is the first album I ever purchased... on cassette tape... from an Our Price... and listened to it on a Walkman. Can you spot the theme here? Correct, things that no longer exist. Mel, perhaps there is a large flashing, hinting sign in there somewhere.
In all seriousness, the overall impression of the album is that it feels a bit phoned in. It fluctuates effortlessly between safe Sunday morning Radio 2 songs and 'who let Auntie Mel on the karaoke again?'. Whilst the other members of the Spice Girls have moved on to other pursuits (fashion designing, presenting, UN ambassadoring, etc), it feels like Mel C is still trying to be a Spice Girl like the kid in the park who's brought his ball and will still be kicking it against the wall long after everyone else has gone in for tea. I would love to see a complete rebrand and for Mel C to come out with something totally different but I think it's more likely that we'll revisit this exact conversation in another four years.
Elsewhere, for those still trying to come to terms with the tragic passing of David Bowie in January, an original cast recording has been released of his musical Lazarus. It was one of his last completed works and is due to start in the West End in the next few weeks. The tracks are a mixture of original songs written for the production and Bowie classics including beautiful renditions of my favourite song Life On Mars? and Heroes featuring fabulously talented 15-year old Sophia Anne Caruso. There's even a version of Mott The Hoople's Bowie-penned classic All The Young Dudes for good measure. Well worth a listen.
Disappointment of the week comes in the form of Bop City by Terror Jr. Started as a 'social experiment', much of the focus since their emergence has been on the identity of their lead singer, alias Lisa. Little White Bars, the album's opening track held some promise for me. It has a stripped back, haunting feel and nothing else on the album lives up to it. It feels like a classic example of a band trying to be mysterious and play the social media game without having the goods to back it up. Perhaps the 'experiment' could have been writing lyrics that don't say 'pray for the pussy' on repeat. Just a thought.
Speaking of singers who inexplicably disguise their identity, we finish on a 'Deluxe Edition' of This Is Acting by anonymous Antipodean Sia. I wouldn't ordinarily select a re-release other than for the fact that this is one of my favourite albums of the years so far. Comprised of songs written for other artists then ultimately rejected, the bitter spirit that underlies this album is on par with any of Adele's efforts who, ironically, is the artist who passed on the magnificent opening two tracks Bird Set Free and Alive. The main reason for the new edition appears to be adding recent top ten single The Greatest and acknowledging Sean Paul's involvement in chart-topping, Rihanna-destined track Cheap Thrills. Not a lot more bang for your buck but the album in its original format has enough to keep you going, if only to try and identify each track's original recipient.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Sia bites the hand that feeds
The Spice is not right
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