Oh, Gwen, you’re not in No Doubt anymore. I do believe you’ve sold out on us.
On her solo album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, Gwen Stefani takes her sound from the ska-driven rock of No Doubt to Japan-obsessed techno-pop. While her catchy songs are mixed with a strong beat and exude an ’80s vibe, they come across as something more appropriate for the gay-club set.
Stefani’s greatest inspiration for her disc is made apparent in several tracks, including the unoriginally named “Harajuku Girls,” as she croons about the trendy Tokyo district where she met the muses for her line of Japanese inspired clothing.
Her single, “What You Waiting For?” is one of the best recent pop songs, but alas, one song does not make an album. The majority of Love, Angel, Music, Baby is an unabashed advertisement for Stefani’s clothing line, L.A.M.B. (oh, so that’s what L.A.M.B. stands for!).
Stefani pushes L.A.M.B. conspicuously in “Rich Girl,” a re-make of the Fiddler on the Roof show-tune, “If I Were a Rich Man.” Her version would be cleverer if it weren’t a blatant copycat of a lesser-known Indian bhangra pop version. This track features Eve, who also markets her own clothing line as she raps, “See Stefani in her L.A.M.B. / I rock the Fetish / You know who I am.”
Love, Angel, Music, Baby does include some other noteworthy tracks: Listen to “Cool,” a sweet ballad with a rockin’ beat, the New Order-backed “The Real Thing,” and “Long Way to Go,” a brilliant duet with Andre 3000 that sharply criticizes race relations. Unfortunately, the rest of the songs make up a CD better left at the bottom of the sale bin.
Hannah Bae can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.