As an after-Christmas present to myself (didn't get the sewing machine I wanted), I picked up Gwen Stefani's new solo CD, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Admittedly, I've always been a fan of Stefani-- if I could dress like anyone, I'd dress like her (but I'm what I'll refer to as "Wisconsin-sized" -- that should give you an idea as to how stupid I'd look).
It's a great, poppy, piece of bubble-gum dance fun. It's funny, but Stefani's voice is absolutely perfect for hip-hop dance tracks. She can go high and girlish and low and kinda growly. Rich Girl, with Eve and Dr. Dre, is one of my favorite songs right now -- mixing the Fiddler on the Roof song with reggae and a strong bass beat makes it instantly infectious. Hollaback Girl is also a good one -- it's like a good step routine and has a cheerleader-gone-bad vibe to it.
A lot of the songs like "Cool" and "Serious" hearken back to the 80's dance tracks with synth-violins and other touches like that. Some of the songs remind me of early Madonna and New Order.
While Danger Zone is Stefani doing a great job at being a badass, when I heard it, I couldn't help but think about how Shirley Manson would've done it (and how it would've kicked SO. MUCH. ASS.).
The only weak link in my mind is the final song (a special track) with Andre 3000 called A Long Way to Go. It's the message song that in a way, didn't seem necessary on a poppy fun album. But it's not terrible. It's not like an after-school special. It's just kind of jarring and yanks you out of the good-time party. As if the L.A. riots of 1992 or the KKK invaded a really good get together.