It was pretty inevitable that Gwen Stefani was going to go solo years before she actually did. Her early solo success – dueting on Eve’s “Let Me Blow Your Mind” in 2001 – showed that she could easily make mesh the transition from the Ska-pop gems she created with her No Doubt comrades to the hip-hop world. And, most likely, record company exec’s were, at that time, on her to capitalize on her new found audience and were in a hurry to get a solo Stefani disc to the public. Stefani wisely took her time and waited until late 2004 before she graced the world with Love. Angel. Music. Baby., a true pop/hip-hop showpiece.
Maybe she is in a rush to stake her claim as a solo artist and wants to bury the ghost of the mid-riff pogo-ing cheerleader that fronted No Doubt. But, if she is intent on making a go at a solo career, Stefani had better play closer attention to the music and less to her “Hollaback Girl” image.
Why we do want to cut her some slack, as she did become a mom this year, it is really hard to make excuses for The Sweet Escape, a CD that is not even in the same class as its predecessor.
The CD lead off cut “Wind It Up” has some bass infused and energetic moments, but it is all ruined by Stefani’s occasional but annoying yodeling. Why she would want to cop an idea that wasn’t even appealing a decade ago when Jewel (remember her?) felt obliged to share with the world a sampling of her love of yodeling, truly one of the most infamous and annoying exports of the Swiss Alps.
And while Stefani can deliver Hip-Hop laced tracks, she should leave the actual rapping to Missy Elliott, as her misguided attempt at what could only be termed as semi-rapping on “Orange County Girl” is just misguided.
Stefani has often spoken of her love of 80’s music, and that vibe is pretty strong on the cut “Fluorescent.” While the lyrics are fairly juvenile, this has more of a unique quality and is reminiscent of early 80’s New Wavers, Altered States.
All in all, The Sweet Escape is a big letdown. If Stefani was just one member of the generic and talent less pop-tart lot (Ashlee Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Hillary Duff…etc.) then it would be easy to just ignore this. But, in the past couple of years, she has appeared to be on her way to being the current Middle-aged Queen of Pop. So what happened? Even the golden touch of Pharrell is not enough to salvage a collection that is not even worthy enough to be leftovers from Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Why, after all the detailed work she did on Love. Angel. Music. Baby., did she decide to rush this new CD out is a mystery. Maybe she is feeling overly ambitious, but the result is a mishmash of lame tunes and disjointed jams that just tarnishes the promise she had always showed.