It’s been a long time since Melanie C was a part of the Spice Girls, and she’s covered a lot of ground since then. With six previous albums under her belt covering styles from pop and rock to musical theatre covers on 2012’s Stages, she’s come a long way since the girl group pop she was used to in the nineties. Rather than letting Stages define her career, however, she takes her music back in a contemporary direction with her seventh album Version Of Me, and her career’s reaching new heights simultaneously.
While the album varies between songs with a more pop or R&B-focused style, its electronic nature is what defines most of it. The lead single Anymore indicates the style well, with the funky synths that dominate its chorus setting the tone of the song even despite its simpler choruses. Moments like the wobbling dub synths on the chorus of Escalator, the synthetic growl that makes up the bass line in Something For The Fire and the lush arrangement of electronics across Unravelling shine bright thanks to their production, and Melanie’s vocals meld with the songs perfectly. Its less electronic moments, such as the ballad Room For Love and the R&B style of Loving You Better, fit alongside the more upfront electronic tracks thanks to the diverse styles she covers, and nothing really drags the album down.
Perhaps most surprising, however, is Numb. Being the only track to come close to house music, it stands out from the majority of the tracks on the album, but also acts as a heavy focal point for the album. As someone with a hesitation to step into electronic music, Numb showcases why it suits her so well, with her raw vocals sounding perfectly in tune with the deeper beats and near-tropical vibe of the track, cementing her ability to be diverse yet still comfortable handle the new style. It’s a very different direction for her to take, but it’s an experiment that works out regardless.
There’s a major juxtaposition between Stages and Version Of Me stylistically, but if anything that only makes the latter shine brighter. It’s an on-trend collection of songs; one that shows her potential place with electronic music in the future, despite still leaning very close to the pop spectrum, and cements her potential versatility simultaneously. Rather than allowing her career to grow stale after seventeen years as a solo artist, Melanie C takes a stab at something a little different with Version Of Me and easily pulls it off.