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Girls Lacking Spice, Sass in New 'World'

RECORD RACK

November 02, 1997|Natalie Nichols

SPICE GIRLS

"Spiceworld"

Virgin

* 1/2

If you're gonna call yourselves Spice Girls and conquer the pop world with your outrageous antics and messages of "girl power" and "positivity," then you ought to muster a bit more zest for your second release than Baby, Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Posh have done here.

What little vocal sass there was in "Spice," the English group's multi-million-selling debut, is replaced by bland, half-hearted harmonizing--but then any attitude they might have conveyed is over-processed into oblivion. These 10 simple-minded dance anthems and lite ballads are so slickly produced that most techno-pop sounds positively organic by comparison.

Tracks such as the Caribbean-flavored "Spice Up Your Life" pump out the energy of an aerobics workout, but bear no trace of passion. The Spices can't even deliver lines such as "Come on freak and lose control" with the oomph of a high school pep squad. They do show more sincerity in the un-self-conscious way they recycle hooks, borrowing blithely from the better formulas of '60s girl groups ("Stop"), the Jackson 5 ("Do It"), and Madonna (the ridiculous "Viva Forever"). And so it goes that the most engaging number, "Move Over," cops Pepsi's "Generation Next" slogan for its rousing refrain.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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