Gwen Stefani : Love Angel Music Baby
No Doubt lass struts her solo stuff with help from New Order, Dr Dre and OutKast
No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani, however, has more class than your average pop star. When she decides to put her multi-platinum band on ice it’s not to cover up her midriff and bash out a few ill-thought-out socio-politico statements on an acoustic guitar, it’s to go even more unabashedly bubblegum. ‘Love Angel Music Baby’ (yes, rubbish, but it’s a tribute to her fashion label LAMB) is her self-confessed “guilty pleasure”. Pulling in the coolest names in the biz (Dr Dre! The Neptunes! Linda Perry! New Order! Andre 3000!) to produce, co-write and guest, she shamelessly plunders her schoolgirl tape collection to create an album which could change the course of music forever – if this was 1983. Here in 2004, it’s still one of the most frivolously brilliant slabs of shiny retro-pop anyone’s had the chuzpah to release all year. And that includes The Killers.
All the best bits of the decade of decadence are here – Salt-N-Pepa’s cartoon rap ( ‘Crash’), Madonna’s breathless purr ( ‘Cool’) and camped-up Prince sexperimentalism ( ‘Bubble Pop Electric’). And almost each and every one (bar the knuckle-bitingly bad Andre 3000 duet ‘Long Way To Go’ – an ill-thought-out socio-politico statement that comes complete with its own scratched-up Martin Luther King voiceover) sounds like a future hit. As it is, the next single is ‘Rich Girl’, a Dre-produced playground chant featuring a tough-girl ragga cameo from Eve.
Like a more clued-in Material Girl, Gwen Stefani has looked to the youngsters and realised that if the Thatcher/Reagan years can work in cool rock clubs (The Bravery, The Departure, The Killers), they can almost certainly work in the charts. It’s this kind of sussed street-pillaging that makes ‘LAMB’ a triumph and Stefani the kind of platinum-plated pop icon she’s always threatened to be.
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