For the first in a new series, we’ll be reviewing and ranking Gwen Stefani’s latest and new album This Is What the Truth Feels Like. We’ll be presenting our views and takeaways on each track and will post our average score.
If we had to describe This Is What the Truth Feels Like in one word, we would say powerful. Gwen is back and her new-found confidence radiates throughout the entire album from start to finish. Truth may feature some of her best writing and we can tell that she didn’t hold back. The album flows really nicely and the production is stellar.
As far as singles go, this album is full of them, and makes us excited for the future. Truth is full of bangers and we could see a few of them doing well on the radio such as “Where Would I Be?”, “Send Me a Picture” and a song that sounds like it was made for the radio, “Asking 4 It” featuring chart-topper rapper Fetty Wap. These songs are super catchy (though maybe a little repetitive in parts), but they are so fun and the production is stellar. It would be pretty rad if Gwen went out on limb and released either “Red Flag” or “Naughty” as a single — could you imagine? Speaking of those ones…
It’s incredible and satisfying as a fan that has followed and admired her for so many years to wade in her happiness with songs like “You’re My Favorite” and “Rare”. It’s true, we haven’t heard true “happy” songs from Gwen in a really, really long time (like, “Stricken”). Thinking back, though Rock Steady did have a few love songs on the album (“Underneath It All” comes to mind), they were always sprinkled with doubt and insecurities. She faces those doubts head on on Truth, and on a personal level, we were blown away by her honesty and rawness.
“Enough, enough of this suffering / Hurry up, come see me / Put me out of my misery”
With it’s unique bass line, “Misery” is a great track to kick off the album and sets a precedent of what to expect: emotionally driven lyrics and stellar production. Fans were anxiously waiting for a taste of the track after Gwen first mentioned it as a potential single late last year. “Misery” delivered and the lyrics seem like they were taken straight from her diary (even though it does get a little repetitive).
BSO Average Score: (J 4/5, D 4/5, C 3.5/5, T 3.5/5)
“You’re My Favorite”
“Momma, can I keep him? / I promise I’ll take care of him”
“You’re My Favorite” is a standout track. The song delivers unique production and interesting tempos throughout with a haunting charm. “You’re My Favorite” gives us a ’90s R&B vibe and that synth used in the song is pretty damn cool sounding.
BSO Average Score: (J 4.5/5, D 3/5, C 4/5, T 4/5)
“Where Would I Be?” Christina’s Top Pick
“I just love on you now / I guess that’s just what I’m gonna do now”
We see “Where Would I Be?” as a potential single from the album. With it’s poppy-reggae vibe (reminds us of Lily Allen a little), it sounds like a perfect party song and is quintessential Gwen in 2016. When the bridge comes in, we’re taken back Gwen’s holler-chant in “Hollaback Girl”, then she smooths back in with a warm vocal delivery. As expected as the song may have been, it’s totally unexpected and really fun… but it sounds like it’s missing something.
BSO Average Score: (J 5/5, D 3.5/5, C 5/5, T 3/5)
“Make Me Like You”
“Hey, wait a minute / You’re on me like jewelry / I really like it but I’m so scared”
“Make Me Like You” is pop perfection and it stands out as one of the bright spots on Truth. The song is super fun and catchy and the disco-esque vibe is addicting and a refreshing sound from Gwen. Her vocal delivery on the track is so sweet and innocent which blends well with production.
BSO Average Score: (J 4/5, D 4/5, C 4/5, T 5/5)
“Truth” Tyler’s Top Pick
“They’re all gonna say I’m rebounding / So rebound all over me / Cause I don’t want nobody else”
“Truth” is one of Gwen’s best songs ever. From the super personal lyrics to the incredible instrumental, the whole song feels organic and honest. It tugs on our heartstrings for sure and the production and delivery gives us chills. It’s great to have a song like this from Gwen that really showcases her talent as a songwriter and true artist. And we’re so incredibly happy for Gwen for coming such a long way. We can’t say enough about “Truth”. It’s beautiful.
BSO Average Score: (J 4/5, D 5/5, C 3/5, T 5/5)
“Used To Love You”
“I thought I was the best thing to ever happen to you / Now look at what you lost”
Gwen’s debut single from Truth, “Used To Love You” was praised by critics and fans for being one of her most personal songs in years. “Used To Love You” still stands out as one of the album’s most intimate tracks and holds a special place for us due to it kickstarting everything off in the right direction. MAIZE also remixed the track (which Interscope released as the official remix) and it came across just as powerful as the original.
BSO Average Score: (J 3.5/5, D 3.5/5, C 3/5, T 4/5)
“Send Me a Picture”
“Are you looking online? / Are you looking at me? / Been thinking of you / Are you thinking of me?”
“Send Me a Picture” came in pretty average for us. It’s fun, flirty and breezy and the beat reminds us of “Don’t Get It Twisted”. It’s also hard not to hear Major Lazer’s “Lean On” a little once you’ve compared the two (not like that’s a bad thing).
BSO Average Score: (J 3/5, D 3/5, C 3/5, T 3/5)
The production on “Red Flag” is CRAZY! Notably known as one of the first songs Gwen wrote after heading back into the studio after her split from her ex-husband, the lyrics are intense and angry. It’s an entirely new sound from Gwen but oddly familiar. The orchestral strings add an eerie sound to the track alongside the thumping bass and rhythmic vocal delivery. It’s incredible but we can see how some wouldn’t dig it — from Gwen yelling out “This is your punishment!” to hearing her sob in the background. Whatever it is, it’s totally her and we love her for taking the risk.
BSO Average Score: (J 5/5, D 3.5/5, C 4/5, T 2/5)
“Asking 4 It” (feat. Fetty Wap)
“I know it’s a lot to handle me / But it is what it is / It’s all apart of my broken history”
“Asking 4 It” is the most urban song on Truth and has all the key ingredients to be a radio smash. Gwen is joined by chart-topping rapper Fetty Wap and the beat is pretty addictive. The chorus is super catchy and repetitive (which is good for radio!) and has a few special moments throughout including the off-beat synth and smooth breakdowns. Even though it’s hard to understand a word from Fetty Wap, he’s actually cool to hear on the track and an unexpected pleasant surprise.
BSO Average Score: (J 3/5, D 2.5/5, C 4/5, T 4/5)
“Naughty” comes off as a huge Broadway production number and we’re sold. From all the interesting sounds, shapes, deliveries, tempo changes — it’s another track on Truth that is so true to Gwen — and one like “Red Flag” that might split fans down the middle. That piano! The lyrics are so catchy and sassy and her confidence radiates throughout the track it’s hard not to feel the song in your bones. Her vocal delivery flashbacks us back to her vibrato that we’ve always freaked out over. Those lyrics! Go, Gwen!
BSO Average Score: (J 5/5, D 5/5, C 4/5, T 3/5)
“Me Without You” Dave’s Top Pick
“Watch me breath without you / Things are about to get real good”
“Me Without You” is a true testament to Gwen’s strength as a person and songwriter. The raw emotion she delivers
BSO Average Score: (J 4.5/5, D 5/5, C 3/5, T 3/5)
“Rare” Geo’s Top Pick
BSO Average Score: (J 3/5, D 4/5, C 3/5, T 3.5/5)
BSO Average Score: (J 3.5/5, D 3/5, T 4/5, C 4/5)
BSO Average Score: (J 4/5, D 4/5, C 3/5, T 5/5)
“There’s no way in the world that I would ever think that I would have this feeling that I’m having right now, okay? Do you understand me that? What!?”
“Obsessed” brings us back to the L.A.M.B. album with it’s kookiness and 1980s dance club charm. Gwen’s flirty lyrics and vocal delivery is really fun — “Obsessed” is simply about Gwen being obsessed with a new relationship and finding herself feeling certain feelings again years later (and pulling over to text on the road). She’s enjoying herself and it really shows on “Obsessed”. The chorus is really catchy and fun to sing along!
BSO Average Score: (J 4/5, D 3/5, C 3/5, T 4/5)
While some of the melodies are interesting and pretty, we can understand how “Splash” was released as a bonus song. Gwen’s vocals are on-point on “Splash”, but the track just doesn’t standout among the rest of the album. “Splash” is fun with sexy lyrics, but collectively came in as one of our least favorites.
BSO Average Score: (J 2.5/5, D 2.5/5, C 3/5, T 2.5/5)
“Loveable” Jenny’s Top Pick
“This is crazy, I knew it all along / And now you can’t undo it / You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone”
It’s really unfortunate this song didn’t make the final album — and worse, it’s only available on international deluxe editions. “Lovable” is incredible and features some of Gwen’s most intense and gorgeous vocal deliveries in recent memories. The lyrics are strong, sassy and powerful and a direct reference to moving on mentally and physically. We love the breakdown which kind of reminds us of a Garbage song (Gwen’s vocals do come across as a little Shirley Manson-esque at some point) — and we love it. So much. The dark synths are just icing on the cake, too. It’s something new from Gwen and comes across (in our opinion) as one of the highlights and most gut-wrenching tracks on Truth.
BSO Average Score: (J 5/5, D 4/5, C 3.5/5, T 4/5)
BSO Average Score: (J 2.5/5, T. 3.5/5)