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CD Review: Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape

Gwen Stefani may be channeling Scarface-era Michelle Pfeiffer on the cover of The Sweet Escape (Interscope), but her second solo outing is squarely rooted in eighties pop, with a little bit of Sound of Music thrown in.

While the bizarrely alluring first single, "Wind It Up," has Gwen yodeling and sampling "The Lonely Goatherd," the title track (produced by and featuring Akon) is a veritable kitchen sink of new-wave references, cramming in chimey keyboards, punchy brass, tambourines, and a catchy "whoo-hoo! yee-hoo!" refrain. But the nostalgia doesn't end there. "U Started It" is a well-executed Prince homage, with its sultry vocal melody and synthesized strings, while "Orange County Girl" has Stefani rapping through her life story: "A lot of things have changed but I’m mostly the same / These are a few of my favorite things."

But while the standout tracks on "The Sweet Escape" are undoubtedly unique, most of Stefani's pop/hip-hop hybrids start to sound saccharine after just a few listens. For the rest of my take,

"Now That You Got It," one of several Neptunes-produced songs on the album, is a skittish hip-hop experiment that feels grating and repetitive, while the danceable "Fluorescent" suffers from synthesizer overload. One of the most disappointing tracks, however, is the sugary-sweet "4 in the Morning." Despite its party-all-night perspective, the somewhat generic melody could very easily be mistaken for 1990s teen girl pop. So while yodeling over hardcore rap beats may be weird, at least its edgy, and I like my Gwen with a little bit more edge.

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uno7661 uno7661 9 years
Love her and her music,Sweet escape will and has sky rocketed as I knew it would , Theres all kinds of music for everyone on this cd . Sexy great music .Listen a give it a good listen to.THERES ONLY (1)GWEN no one else can touch her all the way around.
MsMelo MsMelo 10 years
I don't care much for this album. The only song I like is 'The Sweet Escape'. L.A.M.B. was better than this.....hope No Doubt will come back with some new stuff...
Daisy6264 Daisy6264 10 years
I like some of her music.
sapphireinthesky sapphireinthesky 10 years
not a gwen fan but can't get that damn" wind it up" out of my head
flutterpie flutterpie 10 years
i love it, especially yummy and early winter. actually the whole is amazing to me. yay gwen. hey did anyone catch her thank yous on the back, it was sweet. i know he thinks you're fine and stuff but does he know how to wind you up?
tabloidprincess tabloidprincess 10 years
I only like two songs on this album. 4 in the Morning and Don't get it twisted. The rest is boring.
kittyluxe kittyluxe 10 years
I agree with everything isisbluemoon said! I've loved Gwen for 10+ years so she can really do no wrong in my eyes. It took a few listens for me to get into TSE, but now I'm in love with it. It's just a fun album and people need to stop taking music so seriously. Among the highlights are "Now That You Got It" (produced by Swizz Beats, not The Neptunes), "Yummy", "Don't Get It Twisted", "Early Winter" (which could totally be a ND song), and my current favorite "Wonderful Life".
OChottie OChottie 10 years
Maybe I'm partial but, Orange County Girl is a great song. I saw her last November and heard her sing Wind it Up & OC Girl live. She effing rocks.
isisbluemoon isisbluemoon 10 years
The Sweet Escape is awesome. It's not really an introspecitve and deep CD, so it kind of bugs me when people trash it. It is what it is. Sweet melodic bliss wrapped around some interesting hip hop beats. I was far more excited about this album than I was LAMB, but Gwen holds a special place in my heart, as does No Doubt in general. I've loved Gwen and these guys for 10+ years, so it's nice to keep adding to my extensive music collection.
radarkitty radarkitty 10 years
Although I'm not a huge fan of "Wind it Up" I'm really looking forward to hearing the rest of her album! Yay Gwen!
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