This is the third solo album by Gwen Stefani, the singer from ska band No Doubt (they were quite big in the 90's with hits like 'Just A Girl' and 'Don't Speak' then they went RnB in the early 2000's for some reason) and whose first two solo albums were quite popular and produced a few hits in the early 2000's - I'll get the elephant in the room out of the way now, 'Hollaback Girl' was atrocious. I have to be honest though, 'The Sweet Escape' was quite good fun, especially when my Mrs would sing it whilst drunk. Ah, good times. Since then, there's been a No Doubt reunion with possibly a view to reformation, but I dunno if that's going to be a permanent thing. Lately, our Gwen has had a bit of a time recently, splitting up and divorcing her husband Gavin Rossdale. You might remember him as the front-man for a Nirvana tribute band called Bush.
As mentioned, this is the third solo album and first indications are ones of dread because: The album has EIGHT producers. Yup, eight. How the fuck it takes eight people to produce an album, I don't know...as one can imagine, the album contains songs that deal with the aftermath of a relationship breaking down. Hey, Adele and Taylor "This Sick Beat" Swift have built a fucking career on songs about break-ups. I suppose it's as good an inspiration as any. There were two songs earmarked for the album but they ended up getting scrapped in favour of the stuff on here.
1) Misery - The album opener and not about a movie starring Kathy Bates and James Caan. However, despite starting quite downbeat, the song does contains elements of the typical traits of Gwen Stefani solo material. Her vocal style doesn't seem to have changed much which should please long-time fans. Quite a nice rhythm in the background and the pop music is ok. For some reason, it's got me thinking of African tribal music. It's alright.
2) You're My Favourite - Starts off with plinky-plonky electronica before going into Gwen's vocal gymnastics. I'm not entirely sure this song is going anywhere, to be honest. It sounds like it should b good but comes across as quite bland.
3) Where Would I Be? - This is a bit better, at least it has a competent rhythm. Not too keen on the intro though as it's one of those fade-in intros that were popular in the early 2000's - think of "Call On Me" by Eric Prydz and you're there. Not that this song sounds like that, it's not as fast. This is a competent slice of pop - the 'multi layered gang vocal' in the middle can fuck off though, as it sounds too much like 'Hollaback Girl'...oh dear.
4) Make Me Like You - Multi layered vocal intro gives the impression that Gwen Stefani has turned into Enya but then we go into something that sounds like typical GS. So far, I've not heard ANYTHING that sounds like it justifies eight producers. Fans of this will love it.
5) Truth - Not a cover of Clawfinger (that would have been a fucking awesome cover to hear). Again, despite some well constructed music, the overall feeling is that we've got another song that's not going anywhere.
6) Used To Love You - Erm...nah, not really. As before we've got some good pop music but despite hearing the obvious emotion in the delivery of the lyrics, not my thing.
7) Send A Picture - Oh dear. We've hit a snag. It's pretty much the same for this one too! It's also about now I'm running out of things to say. Anyone got a thesaurus?
8) Red Flag - Nah, not the Commie anthem but...oh my, what interesting music. Nice low rumble bass although the 'rapping' and the 'multi layered gang vocals' kind of bring things down a bit. Other than that, it's a decent song. Certainly better than the last three.
9) Asking 4 It - Well, the auto-tuned vocals can piss off. It also has a guest appearence rap by Fetty Wap which is alright, but no great shakes.
10) Naughty - What the fuck is this??? Oh my God, she's lost her mind! Alternating between slow verses and chrouses which increase in tempo extremely significantly whilst similar shifts in pace for the vocals occur as well. It's certainly the album eye-opener right now!
11) Me Without You - Shite, another cookie-cutter of a song that sounds like the middle of the album. Shame after the glorious last track. As before, some good music.
12) Rare - Well, it's a bit more up-tempo than the last number but still...could have been better. The problem is that the songs on here seem to sound the same to me. I'm guessing that Gwen fans will enjoy it.
13) Loveable - appearing on the "international" versions of the album. It's not too bad. Full summation to come,,,
The album itself is...totally not my thing at all. In fact, if I went without hearing this album again, I would not complain. For an album with eight producers, it doesn't sound like it. It sounds like a typical pop record. The music is very well put together with what I'm guessing to be a standard pop production in place. Mind, some of the songs at the start did seem to hark back to her earlier efforts, which would no doubt (no pun intended) make the long-time fans happy. Those guys and girls will no doubt enjoy this album, and I dare-say that fans of well put together pop music would as well. So, to quote Luke Skywalker - "I sense the good in you" but this album isn't going to be one for me. You lot can go knock yourselves out though.
Top Track: Naughty.
This album is on iTunes.