Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain, is the 2007 fourth solo studio album This Time by British singer, songwriter, and occasional Spice Girl, Melanie C. Will this album be as sweet as Candy, or will you need Time out? Read on…
The album opens with Understand, one of the album’s Canadian singles, and it has a rush of music that makes me instantly feel like it’s fallen off of a Coldplay recording session. Melanie’s vocals sitting softly over the verse before giving us just a glimmer of that unmistakeable vocal power for the chorus, but she never quite lets it loose.
Next up is What If I Stay, which opens with some wonderful acoustic guitars, giving Melanie the perfect foundation to show off some wonderfully delicate vocals. Her diction is lovely too. Eventually, some strings and a harmonica join in, gently easing the song along. If feels light and summery, and almost dreamy. A lovely little song.
Then it’s Protected, which follows the same wafting tempo, again laden with strings, but here its joined by guitar and drums. Melanie’s vocals are rich, sometimes breathy, and it’s set wonderfully against the song as it builds, and she gets to show off her vocals for the mid section. The vocal harmonies add extra warmth to the wall of guitars and strings as the song builds. The melody reminds me a little bit of something from 90’s Oasis, and the result is a really nice track.
Titular track This Time is next, and we’re into a soft ballad, with faint echoes of William Orbit-esque synths bubbling in the background, until the drums and guitars kick in for the chorus. It’s quite a nice gentle simple song, and there are some wonderfully heartfelt vocals and lyrics, although it does lean a little bit close towards X-Factor fodder. This was not what the UK wanted from Melanie C, and it flopped at #94 in the singles chart.
Carolyna follows this, and stood as the album’s 2nd single. It’s nice enough, but really sounds quite generic guitar pop. It doesn’t really feel like it should have been a single, and the UK public agreed, as it stalled at #49. It reminds me a little bit of a Hanson and Feeder love child, and it doesn’t work.
Piano opens Forever Again, a downbeat guitar mid-tempo song. There’s a glimmer again of Melanie’s vocal power, but then it opts for the softer direction, and heads straight for X Factor. It’s a bit of a predictable slog.
Gurgling synths and guitar lead us into Your Mistake, which opens with some wonderfully crisp vocals from Melanie, before the acoustic guitars and strings lead her to show off some of her vocal warmth. The track builds with bass and drums, as Melanie’s vocals continue at a pace. The result is a song that’s quite good, but definitely an album song.
The Moment You Believe follows that, laden with pianos and strings. Melanie’s vocals sit perfectly on top of this track, but again it could literally be any X-Factor vocalist singing this as their winner song. This was the lead single in Europe, and was a hit in Spain, Germany, and a few other countries. At times, there’s echoes here of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ in the piano and tempo, and Melanie makes light work of the song, with some lovely tender vocals, including some big vocals towards the end.
Then it’s Don’t Let Me Go, a duet with album co-writer Adam Argyle. This is one of only a few songs that doesn’t have Melanie on a writer’s credit. This track sounds musically somewhat different, and the inclusion of Adam’s contrasting vocals and the melody, it makes me think of The Beautiful South. The vocal contrast works really well, and the slight oddness of the track really gives the two space to sing around each other without getting buried in the mix or blurred together. It’s a nice little song.
Immune is next, laden with gently strummed guitars from the outset. Melanie’s vocals are again soft and heartfelt here, sitting perfectly amongst the soft sound, and she sounds wonderful in the chorus with the backing vocals. Again, the Orbit-esque drifting and reversed notes are here. It’s a slow plodding song, but it is rich and warm.
Next is May Your Heart, and it starts off a little brooding, with Melanie’s vocals almost calling the instruments in. She gets to show off some wonderful soft vocals again, and she’s joined by a gentle mid-tempo beat. The song is bright, and airy, and it builds wonderfully. ‘Can you hear me’ she sings, as the backing vocals join and the ensemble plays towards the end. A really nice track.
Penultimate track Out Of Time is next and we’re into a downbeat reflective song again. Actually, the first verse, makes me think of what Melanie C and Portishead might sound like. Then, the backing vocal harmonies drop in, and it lifts it into a really almost ethereal song. Then all of a sudden the roaring electric guitars drop in, and you get that flicker of rock in Melanie’s vocals, giving us a wonderful burst of power. ‘We’ll be alright’ she sings as the guitars roar out.
The album closes with ‘bonus track’ and single I Want Candy which reached #24 in the UK singles chart when it stood as the lead UK single. The track is from a film of the same name (that I have no recollection of). The song feels like it sits a little close to her debut solo single Goin’ Down, but the brass section kind of gives it a jumbled sound stylistically, and alongside the catsuit video, leans a little towards an Austin Powers soundtrack song, undoubtedly because it’s a cover of The Strangeloves’ 1965 track. The chorus works well though – the electric guitar, Melanie’s vocals and the vocal harmonies. It’s an upbeat ending to the album, and a much needed injection of fun, even if the previous track gave the energy.
Over all, this album feels a bit muted. We all know just how much vocal power there is in Melanie C, and this album feels like she’s been restrained a bit.
The highlights of the album are Protected, May Your Heart, and What If I Stay. The low points are Carolyna and Forever Again, mostly because they’re just so generic or flat, that they’re just ill-suited.
The album was not as successful as her other albums in her native UK, with it currently (2021) standing as her lowest charting album. Musically it is well produced, but musically it’s generic too, and that makes me feel like it simply is not a Melanie C album.
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 3 / 5
- 2007 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #57
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.99 from an eBay seller.