The Sweet Escapeby Gwen Stefani
Awkward and alluring in equal measures, Gwen Stefani's 2004 solo debut, Love.Angel.Music.Baby., did its job: it made Gwen a bigger star on her own than she was as the lead singer of No Doubt. With that established and her long-desired wish for a baby finally fulfilled, there was no rush for Gwen to get back to her regular gig, so she made another solo album, The Sweet Escape, which expanded on what really sold her debut: her tenuous connections to Californian club culture. There was always a sense of artifice behind the turn-of-the-century makeover that brought Gwen from a ska-punk sweetheart to a dance club queen, but that doesn't mean it didn't work at least on occasion, most spectacularly so on the gloriously dumb marching-band rap of "Hollaback Girl," the Neptunes production that turned L.A.M.B. into a blockbuster. There, as on her duet with Eve on "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," Gwen made the transition into a modern-day material girl with ease, but when she tried to shoehorn this ghetto-fabulous persona into her original new wave girl character, it felt forced, nowhere more so than on the Linda Perry written and produced "What You Waiting For." Gwen doesn't make that mistake again on The Sweet Escape -- by and large, she keeps these two sides of her personality separate, favoring the streets and nightclubs to the comfort of her new wave home. Just because she wants to run in the streets doesn't mean she belongs there; she continues to sound far more comfortable mining new wave pop, as only a child of the '80s could. As always, it's those celebrations of cool synths and stylish pop hooks that work the best for Stefani, whether she's approximating the chilliness of early-MTV new romantics on "Wonderful Life," mashing Prince and Madonna on "Fluorescent," or lying back on the coolly sensual "4 in the Morning." Only once on the album is she able to bring this style and popcraft to a heavy dance track, and that's on the irresistible Akon-produced title track, driven by a giddy "wee-oh!" hook and supported by a nearly anthemic summertime chorus. Tellingly, the Neptunes, the architects of her best dance cuts on L.A.M.B., did not produce this track, but they do have a huge presence on The Sweet Escape, helming five of the 12 songs, all but one being tracks that weigh down the album considerably. The exception is "U Started It," a light and nifty evocation of mid-period Prince, with its lilting melody, silken harmonies, and pizzicato strings. It sounds effortless and effervescent, two words that do not apply to their other four productions, all skeletal, rhythm-heavy tracks that fail to click. Sometimes, they're merely leaden, as on the stumbling autobiographical rap "Orange County Girl"; sometimes, they're cloying and crass, as on the rather embarrassing "Yummy"; sometimes they have an interesting idea executed poorly, as on "Breakin' Up," a breakup song built on a dying cell phone metaphor that's interesting in theory but its stuttering, static rhythms and repetitive chorus are irritating in practice. Also interesting in theory is the truly bizarre lead single, "Wind It Up," where the Neptunes force fanfares and samples from The Sound of Music's "The Lonely Goatherd" into one of their typical minimalist tracks, over which Gwen spouts off clumsy material-minded lyrics touting her fashion line and her shape. Nothing in this track really works, but it's hard not to listen to it in wonder, since its unwieldy rhythms and rhymes capture everything that's currently wrong about Stefani. From the stilted production to the fashion fetish, all the way down to her decision to rap on far too much of the album, all the dance-pop here seems like a pose, creating the impression that she's a glamour girl slumming on a weekend night -- something that her self-proclaimed Michelle Pfieffer in Scarface "coke whore" makeover showcased on the album's cover doesn't do much to dissuade. If the dance production on The Sweet Escape were better, these hipster affectations would be easier to forgive, but they're not: they're canned and bland, which only accentuates Stefani's stiffness. These misfires are so grand they overshadow the many good moments on The Sweet Escape, which are invariably those songs that stay true to her long-standing love of new wave pop (not coincidentally, these include every production from her No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal). These are the moments that give The Sweet Escape its sweetness, and while they may require a little effort to dig out, they're worth the effort, since it proves that beneath the layers of bling, Gwen remains the SoCal sweetheart that has always been as spunky and likeable as she has been sexy.
- Release Date:
- Interscope Records
Performance CreditsGwen Stefani Primary Artist,Vocals
Stephen Bradley Trumpet,Baritone,Baritone (Vocal)
Pete Davis Keyboards
Martin Gore Guitar
Tony Love Guitar
Angelo Moore Saxophone
Gabrial McNair Trombone,Keyboards,Baritone,Baritone (Vocal)
Pharrell Williams Vocals
Tony Kanal Keyboards
Greg Collins Guitar,Bass Guitar
Loren Dawson Keyboards
Richard Hawley Guitar
Matt Beck Guitar
Mark Ralph Guitar
Tim Rice-Oxley Piano,Keyboards
Aliaune "Akon" Thiam Keyboards
Sean Garrett Background Vocals
Alex Dromgoole Guitar,Bass Guitar
Giorgio Tuinfort Keyboards
Anthony LoGerfo Percussion
Kingston James McGregor Rossdale Voices
Talent Bootcamp Kids Vocals
Anthony LoGerto Percussion
Scheila Gonzalez Clarinet
Technical CreditsSteve Berman Contributor
Ron Fair Orchestra Production
Nellee Hooper Producer,Audio Production
Kevin Mills Engineer
Colin Mitchell Engineer
Linda Perry Composer
Mark "Spike" Stent Producer
Simon Gogerly Engineer
Martin Kierszenbaum Contributor
Gwen Stefani Composer
Pharrell Williams Composer
Robbie Snow Contributor
Tony Kanal Composer,Programming,Producer,Audio Production
Gretchen Anderson Contributor
Aidan Love Programming
Brian Garten Engineer
Angelo Aponte Engineer
Neptunes Producer,Audio Production
Swizz Beatz Producer,Audio Production
Kathy Angstadt Contributor
Greg Collins Engineer,Vocal Engineer,Vocal Producer
Jolie Clemens Art Direction
Tom Williams Contributor
Chris Lopes Contributor
Andrew Coleman Engineer
Ewan Pearson Programming
Andrew Alekel Engineer
S. Garrett Composer
Stephanie Johnson Contributor
Bojan Dugich Engineer
Kasseem Dean Composer
Andrew Mains Contributor
Jonathan Merritt Engineer
Tim Rice-Oxley Composer
Aliaune "Akon" Thiam Composer,Programming,Producer,Audio Production
Ravid Yosef Contributor
Keith Gretlein Engineer
Sean Garrett Producer
Dennis Dennehy Contributor
Dyana Kass Contributor
David Saslow Contributor
Ryan O'Donnell Contributor
Julian Chan Engineer
Jurgen Grebner Contributor
Neil Kanal Programming,Engineer
Scott Enright Contributor
Giorgio Tuinfort Composer,Programming,Producer
Tom Balla Contributor
Missy Barone Contributor
Candace Berry Contributor
Brian Bray Contributor
Nino Cuccinello Contributor
Wendy Diplock Contributor
Jordan Glickson Contributor
Morgan Hartmann Contributor
Kerry Hickey Contributor
Neil Jacobson Contributor
Garnett March Contributor
Ginger Ramsey Contributor
Crystal Riley Contributor
Brenda Romano Contributor
Tony Seyler Contributor
Dave Tomberlin Contributor
Vivian Tran Contributor
David Cohen Contributor
Aiden Love Programming
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
I love Gwen, but I hate the way she sings...or does not sing on this album. I don't like her new style. I miss her in No Doubt. L.A.M.B. was better soley because she sang.
please don't waste your money on this cd.
I love No Doubt and when I heard Gwen's first album, I was a bit taken aback on how different she took her taste in music. So, I am not surprised that she did the same thing again with her sophomore album. I can say that it is an acquired taste to some people. She is not predictable and that's a very cool thing. She is not afraid to take music into alternative paths and create something new and refreshing.
Omg i love this cd so much! Gwen's first cd was awesome, but it was just wild and fun. Sweet Escape is more meaningful and deep. Her vocals are amazing and the lyrics are amazing. Love love love her!!!
this is a great C.D that you have to BLAST in your car. gwen is so fun, so inivative that your never thinking now where have i heard this beofre. shes original and relatable. and there is just so much variety within the album that you cant help but love it. gwen is about moving forward and whats new and the sweet escape is great. i love it.
I wasnt too sure of this CD when I first listened to it but after a few plays I really love it. I dont know why the comment was made about her not singing. She sings on every song. It may be a different style of singing than you are used to but it is singing none the less. The ballads on this CD are beautiful as well. Early Winter, Florescent, 4 in the morning, and U started it are really great tracks.
I thought that “L.A.M.B.” was a very solid debut for Gwen, and this sophomore effort doesn't quite disappoint either. Her first solo effort seemed to be consistent and well thought out, at first listen this just seems weak and rushed in comparison. Yeah, some of the songs are cool but there are definitely more tracks on here that are skip-worthy than on her first album. “The Sweet Escape” is definitely more R&B influenced, whereas “L.A.M.B” was more Pop/Rock influenced. But despite this difference between them, both albums have that eclectic and quirky diversity that we've come to expect from Gwen. After a few listens I come to realize that she does best (solo wise) when she's doing pop songs rather than when she's Hip-Hop/R&B. To me, the moments that give The Sweet Escape its sweetness as well as being the strongest are the title track, "4 in the Morning," " Fluorescent," "U Started It" and "Wonderful "life." All of these have great choruses. But "Early Winter" is the cream of the crop here she sounds like her old self on this track making you believe that she was back with No Doubt. I also like "Yummy" due to its sexy lyrics, "Sweet Escape," "Now That You Got It," and "Don't Get It Twisted" with its techno and dancehall vibe. “The Sweet Escape,” sounds like it’s aching to grab hold of her long-standing love of new wave pop. The production of this album is pretty creative. The reason it's a 3 and not a 4 is because the songs seem to clash a bit making it sound too much alike. But regardless, this is definitely one to pick up if you're interested or enjoyed the singles off L.A.M.B.
I loved this CD! My favorites are:Wind It Up,Sweet Escape,Wonderful Life,Don't Get It Twisted... there are so many! I loved her 1st CD Love Angel Music Baby even more!!!
Gwen was wonderful in No Doubt, she was wonderful in L.A.M.B, she not wonderful now. Her music is horrible horrible horrible. She sold herself out. Gwen please go back to No Doubt and start making excellent music again!!!
This album is really bad. Her debut album was a solid pop album with good songs. But this one is just embarassing. On some songs, Gwen is almost rapping (Yummy, Breakin' Up, Orange county girl), and she cant even rap! Shes tripping over her words and getting tounge-tied. Breakin' UP is probably the worst song on: theres no melody, the horrible "rapping", and the horrible lyrics. The only good songs are the pop-rock songs like Early winter, Wonderful life, Dont get it twisted, Now that youve got it. It's really hard to listen to the whole album because of the akward and embarrasing "rap" songs. Gwen needs to go back to No Doubt and actually write and SING great songs, not dumb little filler songs.
I got this CD for “wonderful life”- Martin Gore played guitar on the song, so I was curious.. I also noticed that it was used in the ad for her “L” fragrance. I love that song and the CD has several great songs on it as well. “Wind it up” would be better sans yodle, but I have gone back to songs that at first weren’t favorites but enjoyed them later. Everyone has a guilty pleasure- a CD that they love even though the critics trash it. Listen to a sample, because you might like it, or even love it.
I've been a Gwen fan for awhile, and i can seriously say that "Wind It Up" is just an awesome song! But, that is the only song on the album that really does it for me.
L.A.M.B. was a great album, it was in my car CD player for quite a few months. But, Sweet Escape doesn't hold up. The songs are dull and they all sound alike. Sounds like it was pieced together and in the stores in time for the holiday shopping season! I'm a big Gwen and No Doubt fan but this is my least fave album she's done. At least I got it on sale for 9 bucks-not too much money gone. Hoping for better next time-hope she delivers.
Save your money for a root canal, its just as painfull. I dont really understand why Gwen feels the need to "rap" when she can actually sing! This is just so sad to see...and hear. I miss NoDoubt. Now that was good music.
LAMB was somewhat embarrassing, but at least it had a couple of songs on there that were catchy enough. The lyrics were insanely bad though, and on Sweet Escape it gets no better. This album though is even worse because there is not one song on here that doesn't sound like a pure mess with no direction. I don't know what Gwen was thinking with this album overall, but it sounds awkward, shallow and immature. I was hoping, at her age, something would change. But nope, still the same woman with no change or growth at all showing on this album. If LAMB is one of your favorite albums then you'll probably enjoy this album, and that's about it.
Gwen Stefani fits right there between Madonna and Nelly Furtado, with a style that pays tribute to the 80's. Although the songs on the "Sweet Escape" aren't spectacular, still Gwen won't have much of a problem keeping her head above water, especially with Fergie and Nelly Furtado hot on her heels. Good album, not as great as her debute solo Love, Angel, Music, Baby. Maybe that spell will be broken by the time the third album drops. It's hard to follow up.
What can i say? i love gwen! i love this cd, i love love angel music baby and i love all the no doubt cds! she is great live both with no doubt and alone. This cd has not left my player for the last week and i am still groovin on it. Way to go gwen from another kid of the 80s!!
I loved her new style. I really recomend this CD to anyone. She has a great style here on this CD. The best songs were "Wind It Up" and "The Sweet Escape".
I love "Yummy" Gwen and Pharrell are the best together!
I was disappointed by her new CD. I love Gwen and I even liked her first CD, but this CD is not the same. It's one thing to have a new style, but she's sold out on this one.
The album was overall great. I wasn't too sure about it when I first purchased it, because I heard of different opinions from different people. I listened to it on the way down to San Diego, and I fell in love with the CD. It has many up beat songs, and is similar to the first CD, but better. If you liked the first CD, you'll like this one. She does sing in the songs. There are just a few that she sing/talks in like "Wind It Up."] [Song Reviews: (Wind It Up - Good.) (The Sweet Escape - Cute song, weird noises for the "woohoo, yeeehoo.") (Orange County Girl - Alright..) (Early Winter - Great slow song.) (Now That You Got It - My favorite song. Really good upbeat song. The middle "rap" part is cute.) (4 In The Morning - Cute slow song.) (Yummy - Kinda crazy like "Wind It Up." I only like the chorus.) (Flourescent - It's alright. Kinda cute.) (Breakin' Up - LOVE IT! Listen to the lyrics, not just the chorus.) (Don't Get It Twisted - Interesting. Clown music in the background kinda. It's catchy though.) (U Started It - Adorable song! It's a slow song, but you'd love to listen to it with the radio on full blast.) (Wonderful Life - The dull song of the CD. It's a slow song, the chorus is good though.)