Forever

It's been almost five years since England's Spice Girls had people smiling or sneering. Their third album, Forever, will probably provoke a reaction somewhere in the middle — with one exception, it's just OK. Produced mostly by New Jersey street-soul king Rodney Jerkins, Forever manages a silky, spiky danceability on tracks like "Holler" and "Tell Me Why." Yet Jerkins proceeds as though Spice Girls are sonic presences on par with Whitney Houston or Mya, rather than brilliant examples of everyday people (OK, everyday models) experiencing pop celebrity. This confuses the results. Toward the end of the album, however, Minneapolis geniuses Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis stroll up and produce "If You Wanna Have Some Fun." Fluid and tart, it's one terrific new Spice Girls track, a virtuoso nailing of their milk-and-rhinestones thing lusciously tweaked into champagne and diamonds. Despite that, look for Forever to have a limited shelf life.