I like "Hollaback Girl" and the occasional No Doubt
song as much as the next guy. But something about Gwen
Stefani's new The Sweet Escape rings hollow. She's
like a rich girl who goes clubbing just because she can afford
it, not because she simply loves getting out on the dance floor
and feeling the music.
Stefani shows off many of her multiple musical personalities
throughout this latest effort. There's the kitten-y soft girly
vocal of "Orange County Girl," as well as a cheerleader-like
chant of "Now That You Got It." But these stereotypical
personalities are getting a little too familiar and starting to
wear out their welcome.
She also uses producers the way Paris Hilton dates famous
men. Each is tried on for size, for a few moments of studio fun
then quickly discarded for the next new flavor. The Neptunes,
Nelle Hooper and even No Doubt-er Tony Kanal fill
out the assembly line. But few of these tracks stick to the ribs
like a good meal. "Wonderful Life," which sounds a lot
like Real Life's '80s synth-rock hit "Send Me An Angel,"
suggests a worthwhile new avenue for Stefani - (synth) rock of
the '80s. Rather than the ska of No Doubt, or the club music of
her prior and current solo recordings, this track is ably assisted
by Depeche Mode mastermind - and '80s synth god -- Martin
Gore and Brit rocker Richard Hawley. "U Started
It," due to its memorable melody, also has hit single written
all over it.
Unlike the other Britneys and Christinas of our
pop world, Stefani at least has solid alternative rock credentials.
But this stacked resume does not guarantee excellence in solo
efforts. And with The Sweet Escape, Stefani is unable to
get herself - Houdini-like - free from its lackluster material.
1. Wind It Up
2. The Sweet Escape
3. Orange County Girl
4. Early Winter
5. Now That You Got It
6. 4 in the Morning
9. Breakin' Up
10. Don't Get It Twisted
11. U Started It
12. Wonderful Life
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