Music » Music Stories

Gwen Stefani

The Sweet Escape (Interscope)

by

comment
Gwen Stefani is still pushing the limits of ridiculousness on The Sweet Escape; after all, it takes a person quite secure in her self-confidence to bring back yodeling as a viable chorus hook. But the aforementioned von Trapp-fest ("Wind It Up") is actually the worst song on her second solo effort, a flamboyant sore thumb on an otherwise excellent disc whose tunes genre-skip nimbly from '80s synthpop to modern hip-hop to two-tone ska. What's most striking, though, is that Escape's variety is an asset rather than a liability — and that Stefani finally sounds comfortable enough in her pop-chameleon skin to rely on songcraft over shtick. There's "Early Winter," a longing breakup song with light piano flurries that resembles Aimee Mann's 'Til Tuesday salad days; "4 in the Morning," whose sleight-of-hand trip-hop gives off vibes of early-'90s girl-group R&B; and even "Wonderful Life," where iced keyboards and Stefani's gothic-chanteuse vocals scream Violator-era Depeche Mode. The No Doubt vocalist isn't quite as successful when she acts like a hip-hop bulldog (the embarrassing "Breakin' Up") — but that's mainly because her unself-conscious sense of fun and adventure, coupled with Technicolor tunes, are her real strengths.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.