Fallen angel 

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Before the magical hour ends

Often, musicians and singer-songwriters work with other well-known artists if their own careers are at a crossroads or sputtering into darkness. With hip-hop heavyweights such as Andre 3000, Dr. Dre, and Nellee Hooper handling the controls, Gwen Stefani embarks on her solo vision quest for beauty and the beats. Love Angel Music Baby attempts to put the blond songbird on the musical map on her own terms, but the results become muddled in the collaborative creativity.

The songs on Love Angel Music Baby are saturated with enough asinine pop culture lyrics to choke a mega-mall rat. The opening track and current hit single, "What You Waiting For?" cracks the code for American Top 40 hits but leaves the rest of the album gasping for breath.

The songs get dragged down in forced and redundant slang, insipid anecdotes about backseat sex, and strained references to Stefani's worldly connection to stylish Japanese "Harajuku Girls." Retro electronic keyboards permeate many of the tracks and give Stefani the nostalgic net she needs to catch her before the magical hour ends. The melody that strings through "The Real Thing" is straight out of New Order's discarded set list.

The Neptunes try to pluck their track from the musical mire on "Hollaback Girl" with a clever stab at marching band ballistics. Again, the lyrics create a continuous vacuum with lines such as, "Uh-huh. This my shit. This my shit."

     CD Spotlight

   Love Angel Music Baby
      Gwen Stefani

Overall, the album Stefani says posed a "challenge" to her sets up the same obstacle for the fans. With a hit parade trailing behind her hyper-rocker band, No Doubt, the glamour girl from Orange County should be churning out the catchy, clever tunes that made her a star.
— Michelle Valdez



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