I love Darkchild but his production is SO him that it really did water down the spice. It felt like material any of the R&B groups at the time could have recorded. Some say it's because Geri wasn't there and she had a lot of input into lyrics and song ideas, some say the girls just weren't invested in the group anymore.. I think it was probably an amalgamation of it all. I do enjoy forever as a pop/R&B album by one of my favourite R&B producers but as a Spice Girls album it's lacking sadly.
But, on the flip side of this, the album does flow cohesively as a body of work. Sonically, the sound flows across each track and weaves them together collectively, which is both a positive and a negative.
A negative in the sense that coming from their Magnus Opus, ‘Spice World’ which was an array of sounds and styles, ‘Forever’ felt more generic than it should have been, when it actually is a good album.
As for the positives, the harmonies are a lot tighter and on certain tracks, you can hear all the girls singing their parts perfectly. It’s also distinctive enough that it stands up on its own, away from Spice World to be considered a really strong pop/R&B album in its own right.
The only thing I would have changed would have been to ditch ‘Time Goes By’, get Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to make 1 or 2 more hits in the same style as ‘If You Wanna Have Some Fun’ and include a few more of the funkier (unreleased) third album tracks alongside bringing the album to 13/14 tracks. If it were to be the final album, they could have made it a bigger collection and gone all out as they had the material.