Entertainment Weekly - p.94
"THE SWEET ESCAPE has a surprisingly moody, lightly autobiographical feel." -- Grade: B-
Q - p.1063 stars out of 5
-- "Stefani maintains an admirably off-kilter sound, catchy yet electronically edgy."
Personnel: Talent Bootcamp Kids (vocals); Alex Dromgoole, Greg Collins (guitar, bass guitar); Mark Ralph, Martin Gore, Richard Hawley, Tony Love, Matt Beck (guitar); Angelo Moore (saxophone); Stephen Bradley (trumpet); Gabrial McNair (trombone, keyboards); Tim Rice-Oxley (piano, keyboards); Giorgio Tuinfort, Tony Kanal, Aliaune "Akon" Thiam (keyboards, programming); Loren Dawson, Pete Davis (keyboards); Anthony LoGerfo (percussion); Neil Kanal, Ewan Pearson, Aidan Love (programming); Sean Garrett (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Mark "Spike" Stent; Phil Tan; Richard Travali; Pete Davis.
Recording information: Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA; Chalice Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Doppler Studios, Atlanta, GA; Electric Lady Studios, New York, NY; Grandmaster Recorders, Ltd., Hollywood, CA; Henson Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Home Recordings, London, England; Interscope Studios, Santa Monica, CA; Kingsbury Studios, Los Feliz, CA; Record Plant Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Right Track Recording, New York, NY; Sony Studios, New York, NY; South Beach Studios, Miami Beach, FL; The Nook Studio, Studio City, CA.
Photographers: Nicole Frantz; Cindy Cooper; Jill Greenberg.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Garnett March; Tony Seyler; Brian Bray; Missy Barone; Scott Enright; Ravid Yosef; David Cohen; Ryan O'Donnell; Andrew Mains; Neil Jacobson; Kerry Hickey; Ginger Ramsey; Tom Balla; David Saslow; Dennis Dennehy; Tom Williams; Jurgen Grebner; Robbie Snow; Brenda Romano; Wendy Diplock; Dyana Kass; Dave Tomberlin; Crystal Riley; Vivian Tran; Chris Lopes; Candace Berry; Nino Cuccinello; Jordan Glickson; Morgan Hartmann; Gretchen Anderson; Kathy Angstadt; Stephanie Johnson; Steve Berman; Martin Kierszenbaum.
The sophomore solo effort from No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani capitalizes on the qualities that made her debut, LOVE ANGEL MUSIC BABY, a success, namely the hip-hop-infused club sound she laid down on that album's smash single "Hollerback Girl." As on LAMB, SWEET ESCAPE boasts production work from the Neptunes, among other talented trackmasters (including Akron and No Doubt member Tony Kanal).
In general, Stefani backs off the new wave aesthetic she's usually associated with, although tunes like "Wonderful Life" and "Florescent" still burst with the quirky pop energy of the early 1980s. Instead, the majority of THE SWEET ESCAPE revels in the flashy glamour of the club vibe (as the cover photo of Stefani in sunglasses and platinum suggests), riding propulsive, rickety beats and singalong choruses, as on the hands-in-the-air title track or the Neptunes-helmed single "Wind It Up" (which features samples from THE SOUND OF MUSIC). The album missteps occasionally, but there is enough fun, fizzy dance-pop here to keep Stefani in the spotlight, and to satisfy her growing legion of fans.