When I started working here at Murfie, I set up an account and pledged to use it as a way to explore records that wouldn’t normally find their way into my collection. In an effort to broaden my music knowledge, I sought out both mainstream and underground records, good and bad; my musical palette was soon to be an assortment of classics, instant classics and records that would, well, never be classics.
One morning, as I was scrolling aimlessly through pages of albums, I came across Gwen Stefani‘s solo debut, Love. Angel. Music Baby. My heart was instantly set on making the purchase. My head’s only thought was, “This s**t is bananas.”
If my memory serves me right, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (aka L.A.M.B.) was released when I was in seventh grade. I knew Stefani as the frontwoman of epitomical ’90s band No Doubt, who’s album Rock Steady had hit the radio-waves pretty heavily three years prior. No Doubt was currently on hiatus, but like most bands who call it quits, they wound up making music together again.
I didn’t grow up with No Doubt, so I was completely oblivious to Stefani’s debut until the video for L.A.M.B.‘s first single, “What You Waiting For?” came on one day after school. Being a middle school boy, my gut reaction was to move as far away from the TV set as I could. And until Stefani released “Hollaback Girl” in early in 2005, I avoided L.A.M.B. with the utmost success.
Looking back on my teenage self, my reaction seems valid. But now, as a self-proclaimed, sort-of adult, I was curious to explore L.A.M.B. with open ears.
At first, my ears were ecstatic: the first half of L.A.M.B. straight up slays. “What You Waiting For?,” with its anthemic chorus and big synth riffs, is an ideal pop album opener; its frantic, active and quite satisfying. “Rich Girl” follows, and while it takes a laid-back, hip-hop-influenced approach, its just as fantastic.
And then there’s “Hollaback Girl,” that one song with the marching band, that one song where Gwen teaches you how to spell bananas, that one song that took a year of our lives we’ll never get back. Some days I love this song, other days I hate it; no matter your stance, however, you can’t deny its existence.
“Cool,” a perfectly placed ballad, follows “Hollaback Girl.” For me, “Cool” marks the end of the first half of L.A.M.B. because the remaining eight tracks are a hodgepodge of mediocrity and flat-out weird mid-2000s album tracks. OutKast‘s Andre 3000 shows up on “Bubble Pop Electric,” a track that sounds exactly like you’d expect; “Danger Zone” is surprisingly calm, and late-single “Crash” doesn’t live up to the standard set by the earlier ones.
Part of me thinks the second half of L.A.M.B. is a bust, but most of me thinks that the first four songs are just too good. At the very least, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. is a well-produced pop record that proves just how important track arrangement can be.
Andrew is a communications intern at Murfie. When he’s not blogging here, you can probably find him blogging at a handful of other music sites. And when he’s not blogging at all, you can probably find him curled up with a good beer and a great book.