All Saints: All Saints (London) **½

SHAPELY LONDON dance-pop quartet All Saints are slated to supplant the Spice Girls, but they’re more like the legacy of TLC and En Vogue — too much take-me-serious soul and not enough spunk.

Determined not to be bubbleheaded British bimbos, they wind up taking undue pride in being nowhere at all: They originate from all over (France, Canada, Jamaica), yet when they cover ‘Under the Bridge’ and ‘Lady Marmalade’, they curiously banish all of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ and LaBelle’s fun references to Los Angeles and New Orleans.

Their Shangri-Las imitation, ‘Never Ever’, is an affecting spoken plea about post-breakup guilt and isolation, and ‘War of Nerves’ has an aptly unnerving prettiness. But mostly, All Saints try so hard to sound cool that they deplete themselves of disco’s warmth and never quite cut loose.

© Chuck EddyRolling Stone, 5 March 1998

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