In her own unique way, Gwen Stefani has managed to shift our culture since coming onto the scene as the lead singer of No Doubt. With years of defining style and 30 million in record sales under her belt, she will again turn heads with this debut record that is as fresh as it is retro and as progressive as it is feel-good familiar. With this project, she has enlisted some of the biggest names in music (Dr. Dre, Eve, The Neptunes, Andre 3000, Nellee Hooper, Dallas Austin, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Linda Perry and Tony Kanal) to create a genre bending masterpiece that is guaranteed to be one of the most talked about records of this year and beyond.
On No Doubt's great Rock Steady, Gwen Stefani was a "girl that hangs with the boys... just sippin' on chamomile." Three years and a KROQ-nerd Talk Talk cover later, she presents a solo debut that wants it all--Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano, backseat love and lifetime devotion, '70s pop throwbacks and hip-hop beats as well as Clash adoration (she continues to be managed by the firm of Rebel Waltz, named for a mournful Sandinista! cut). Among the standout tracks are the stomping, Neptunes-driven "Hollaback Girl," the tongue-in-cheek Eve/Dr. Dre collaboration "Rich Girl," and the girl-power manifesto "What You Waiting For?"; another tune, "The Real Thing," nods toward role-model Madonna's "Holiday." Though it can't match Rock Steady's inexorable track-by-track flow, Love, Angel, Music, Baby is such state-of-the-art pop that the description almost feels like damning it with faint praise. --Rickey Wright