From her collaborations with electronic pioneer Moby and rapper Eve to her ’80s dance-pop and R&B-influenced albums Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and The Sweet Escape, Gwen Stefani’s solo work has always given her the opportunity to explore genres and styles outside the already eclectic No Doubt brand. And while the singer’s appearance on DJ/producer Calvin Harris’s upcoming V promises to continue that tradition, it comes as a bit of a surprise that her long-awaited solo comeback single, “Baby Don’t Lie,” doesn’t venture too far from her band’s established template. Co-written by Benny Blanco and Ryan Tedder, the midtempo pop song finds Stefani effortlessly grooving to a reggae-flavored beat and an admittedly catchy hook, complete with her signature yelp, but it hews too close to the sound of No Doubt’s slept-on sixth album, Push and Shove, for which Stefani partly shelved her thriving solo career for eight long years. And a hip-hop-inflected breakdown, in which the Voice star raps, “You can tell me what you’re hidin’ boy/And you can tell me if I’m gettin’ warm,” feels forced, even for the eternally youthful Stefani, on an otherwise breezy track.
The music video for “Baby Don’t Lie” was shot last month with longtime collaborator Sophie Muller. Stefani’s new album is expected in early 2015.