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 and 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, Baby, Music
is such state-of-the-art pop that the description almost feels like damning it with faint praise. --Rickey Wright
Stefani,Gwen ~ Love.Angel.Music.Baby