Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Gwen Stefani -- Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Interscope; 2004

It's hard to write about the very talented Gwen Stefani without mentioning her likewise talented band, No Doubt. The group, which has morphed from ska-punk to reggae-tinged dance music, has been Stefani's vehicle to the bright lights and flashbulbs of stardom. But then you wonder: if Stefani were to jump ship to do her own thing, would she fare as well? Love. Angel. Music. Baby., her first solo album, provides the answer.

Perhaps calling L.A.M.B. a solo effort would be misleading. Stefani -- while clearly a skilled and creative musician of her own right -- made the wise decision to recruit a cavalcade of all-star producers to help her turn raw ideas into reality. With a brain trust varied in style and personality (including Dr. Dre, N'Sync producer Dallas Austin, The Neptunes, and the near-ubiquitous Linda Perry), Stefani was able to make tunes that span a number of genres, some with greater success than others.

Interestingly enough, it's the first half of L.A.M.B. that shows the most promise and finds Stefani at the top of her game vocally. Gwen rocks a J-pop beat laid down by Perry on album opener "What You Waiting For" for an energetic combo peppy enough to get the most slothful listener sweating a bit. "Bubble Pop Electric," the first of Stefani's collaborations with Andre 3000, is a tingly electro pop tune with roots in 50s doowop -- a true standout. Dr. Dre drops one of his better non-hip hop beats on "Rich Girl," with Eve dropping by in an attempt to rekindle the fire she and Gwen had on "Blow Ya Mind"; Stefani's portion fares far better. And "Hollaback Girl," the brassy Neptunes track helps Gwen pull off adorably silly lines like "This shit is bananas / B-A-N-A-N-A-S!"

The album's middle tracks are lukewarm in comparison to their hot hot predecessors. Despite the Isley Brothers sample, "Luxurious" sounds too much like G-funk for Gwen to appropriately helm the tune. The bumping production on "Harajuku Girls" is overshadowed by Stefani's fetish for said ladies, making it a tad too weird for me to enjoy without feeling a little put off.

But it's in the second half of L.A.M.B. that the record loses a significant amount of steam. New wave songs, "Crash" and "The Real Thing" sound like old Kylie Minogue and New Order throwaways, respectively. "Serious" is just as corny but with twice the needless innuendo. They're all fun tunes, but they lack original melodies that can stand up next to the rest of Stefani's work. The album closes with "Long Way to Go," a yawn-worthy lecture about tolerance for interracial couples. A+ for effort, Gwen, but you picked the wrong venue, the wrong time and the wrong spokesperson.

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. is rather revealing as Gwen Stefani's first venture into the world of being a solo artist. Take her out of the comfort zone that her boys in No Doubt provide and her output is a bit spotty (the reverse would probably be true as well). However, Stefani was able to capitalize on her time with some of her collaborators and the results were glorious (I'm dancing to "Bubble Pop Electric" right now, you just can't see me). If Gwen continues to push her boundaries as an artist her audience could be in for a real treat. In the meantime, we'll have to settle for this album's first five tracks and some oh-so-cute L.A.M.B. couture. Ooh, that track jacket is sooo you!

E-mail this post

Remember me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of More...

0 Responses to “”

Leave a Reply

      Convert to boldConvert to italicConvert to link


I Got Love For

ATOM 0.3

Establish Contact:

Previous posts


Add to your Kinja digest