MUSIC REVIEW: Gwen Stefani

The Sweet Escape Interscope
Music •• Sound ••
With five producers spread among 12 tracks, Gwen Stefani looked to diversify on The Sweet Escape and ended up with an album that never quite congeals. Senegal's Akon serves up likeable Madonna-styled pop for the title track. No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal puts standard mechanical beats to what should be an early '70s ballad ("4 in the Morning") if not for the cold, robotic keyboards. Only Nellee Hooper's '80s synth playground for "Early Winter" is plush and warm, despite its heavy reliance on electronic textures. The rest is downhill - mostly mild and tuneless hip-hop chants with harsh, digital samples that never even challenge your subwoofer.

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