Recorded in the aftermath of Stefani’s divorce from Gavin Rossdale, her third solo album was never going to be Vulnicura – the heart-wrenching 2015 breakup album by Bjork. Even so, the emphasis here is on bouncy, sonically unadventurous pop, and fixated on Stefani’s new relationship with The Voice co-star Blake Shelton. Former cooler producers like Pharrell Williams are conspicuous by their absence. There is plenty of truth-telling on songs like Used To Love You and the title track, but the epic, highly public aspects of this divorce and its aftermath aren’t really served by common-or-garden soundcraft, or perky, finger-wagging songs like Naughty. A little more courage would not have gone amiss.
Kitty Empire is the Observer's pop critic. She has written for NME and occasionally crops up on Radio 4, 5Live, BBC 6Music, and has appeared on BBC2's The Culture Show and Newsnight Review. @kittyempire666