Album: Gwen Stefani <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

The Sweet Escape, INTERSCOPE

There's a hollow ring about this follow-up to Love. Angel. Music. Baby., the result of its half-hearted emulation of many of that album's least attractive characteristics. There's the same array of producers (Neptunes, Nellee Hooper, Swizz Beats, etc), the same dressing-up-box approach to pop styles, and the same brazen looting of show-tunes - with "Wind It Up"'s appropriation of "The Lonely Goatherd" continuing where her adaptation of "If I Were A Rich Man" left off, but the results are lacking even the novelty appeal which furnished its predecessor's limited charm. If you fancy hearing ersatz versions of other artists' styles - "Yummy" is surely Gwen's diminishing-return take on Kelis's "Milkshake", while "Wonderful Life" sounds like a Pet Shop Boys outtake - then The Sweet Escape could be for you. The best thing here is the title-track, which is effectively an Akon piece with Gwen "acting like sour milk all on the floor", and animating her lead vocal with some nice backing responses. Otherwise, this is far from the promised "most craziest shit ever" (sic).

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'The Sweet Escape', 'Wind It Up'

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