11 December 2006

NMT: 05 DEC 06 Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape

Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape

The girl from Orange County who's gone from punky ska-ette to fashion icon has released a pretty decent album.

It's not a great album, but it goes down smooth. The main problem is that it's two halves of what could have been a more coherent project. There are two separate styles competing for space on this one release. The New Wave Gwen battles Rap Queen Gwen. New Wave Gwen wins by a length, but Rap Queen Gwen is pretty entertaining, as well.

I just don't see a lot of folks enjoying both halves equally (and judging from some of the negative reviews at Amazon, there are some folks who were turned off by this approach), so as an album to listen to from beginning to end, for most people that won't be a positive experience.

I'm partial to the parts of the album that could have been released in 1985, but that' just me. "Early Winter" is especially sweet in a retro sort of way. It's somewhere between Berlin and the Motels, and that's an awfully awesome place to be.

As far as the Rap Queen stuff, "Yummy" stands out as a summery confection that ought to get plenty of play.

One track sort of melds the two, "Flourescent" has a Vanity 6 feel to it. I wouldn't be surprised if they made a pilgrimage to Minneapolis before recording that song. It has all the Purple Rain period Prince tricks (except for the scorching guitar licks).

The production is top notch, as would be expected with Pharrell and Akon handling those duties. This is state of the art pop confection basically. Gwen has a thin but pleasing voice, and she knows enough to always stay within her limited range. That's a refreshing change for pop singers nowadays. I can easily recommend this album if this is something that appeals to you, but I don't think she'll be winning over any new fans with this.

Also, there was a fluff piece on her in today's LAT, it's about how she's handling mommyhood while being a popstar. Like I said, it's fluff.

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