This Is What The Truth Feels Like is Gwen Stefani’s first full-length solo release in ten years, after taking a short break from music and reuniting with the band with which she began her musical rise to fame, No Doubt. Following the successful return of No Doubt, Stefani’s return to solo work is hoped to be just as impressive.

The album begins with Misery – a fairly generic and unadventurous track, but a good listen nonetheless, and, with the exception of a few tracks, this unfortunately sets the tone for the rest of record. The three tracks that follow, however, are some of those exceptions – You’re My Favourite is a fun, simple pop song and Where Would I Be? is possibly the best song on this album – a summery, outgoing, dub-style tune which could be on many people’s summer 2016 playlists, and following track Make Me Like You is a funky, sugary sweet pop track.

But the positive comments start to run dry after this point in the album, with the majority of the following songs being fairly forgettable, much like the album opener. Truth is a slow and disappointing attempt at a ballad, whereas Used To Love You is repetitive and doesn’t really go anywhere at all. Send Me A Picture doesn’t offer much either, being a bland filler song. Red Flag is Stefani’s attempt to show off her swagger and sass, but to be blunt, the result is weak at best, and grating at worst.

After the disappointing middle section, things do pick up a little with a few more decent tracks, such as the following track Asking 4 It (featuring Fetty Wap). The track begins with dark, brassy synth stabs, and had his vocals been more prominent on this track, it could have worked well as a Fetty Wap single. Following tracks Naughty and Me Without You don’t work so well, as they leave the listener hoping for something more, however the two final tracks on the album manage to bring something back. Rare is a chilled tune in the style of Robin Schulz or Lost Frequencies, which could easily be another summer hit, and album closer Loveable is a punchy pop tune, and also happens to be one of the few songs on this release where the performance feels real, rather than commercial and stale.

On the whole, this release fits the formula entirely of a successful, commercialised, money making record. There are a few potential chart-breakers amongst what is overall, a selection of factory pop produce. It’s a shame too – there are some points on this album that do show potential for Gwen Stefani to be fun, outgoing and genuine. It’s fair to say though, that the title of this album is a lie, because if this was what the truth felt like – perfectly moulded, filtered, scrubbed and cleaned pop music – the whole of today’s music scene would be a pretty miserable place.

5/10

For fans of: Carly Rae Jepsen, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato
Words by Tom Armstrong

‘This Is What The Truth Feels Like’ by Gwen Stefani is out now on Interscope Records.

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