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Fergie reclaims her pop throne on ‘Double Dutchess’

| Monday, September 25, 2017

fergieWEBJOSEPH HAN | The Observer

If you were suspicious of Fergie’s ability to deliver another high-quality pop album, your thinking was fictitious.

Fergie certainly understood the pressure that comes with a ten-year break between albums, but rather than pushing too hard to impress or to prove her staying power, the Dutchess delivers an updated and innovative album for the Girlboss generation. Fergie still manages to weave in the explicitly sexual language we know and love her for (on “Like It Ain’t Nuttin’” she tells her ladies to “rub it on [their] boobies”) but this album is less scandalous and more money-fiend; a lot of the energy put towards Fergie’s bedside manner in 2007’s “Dutchess” is put towards her love of cold hard cash and being a boss lady on “Double Dutchess.” Fergie’s love of “the flossy flossy” has been no secret since “Glamorous,” and this album feels like a reflection on her life in the fast lane.

The opening track, “Hungry,” whets your appetite for the rest of the album; the song is almost too hype for its own good (and it’s got a Rick Ross feature, so how could it not get you going?). The beat features a soaring female chant that feels worthy of a cathedral, and Fergie makes sure you know she’s the deity in this church. The Dutchess promises us that she’s still ambitious, still hungry for success, and that she plans on coming out on top: “girl in the mirror / only one I fear, uh” she boasts in “Hungry.”

On “You Already Know,” Fergie does a nice job of throwing it back to some classic ’90s hip hop while keeping things fresh and modern. Nicki Minaj’s feature kicks the badass babe power on the album into overdrive, even though there is an unfortunate lack of interaction between Minaj and Fergie on the track.

The song also manages to seamlessly weave in a swingy, big-band bridge that serves to surprise and delight, even if only for a few seconds. This genre flexibility within songs turns out to be one of the album’s biggest strengths, especially on the Matoma-sounding “Life Goes On.” “Double Dutchess” feels heavily influenced by the deconstructed style peppered throughout the latest albums from Kanye West, Bon Iver and others — thanks in part to the abrupt tempo changes, spacey bridges and little kids talking about Jesus.

Unfortunately, there is no track to match the heart-wrenching sing-along “Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)” from her first album. This is especially disappointing given Fergie’s recently announced divorce from actor — and Adonis — Josh Duhamel. The more emotional songs on “Double Dutchess” are vocally stunning but feel inauthentic, most obviously on the rather boring “A Little Work.” We get to the real deal on “Love Is Pain,” but Fergie isn’t inviting us to sing along with her – it’s clear from her cathartic scream-belting that she needs some alone time with this one.

A few songs on the album – “Enchanté (Carine),” “Tension,” “Love Is Blind” – are definite bops, but “Double Dutchess” doesn’t pack nearly as hard of a punch as “Dutchess” did with its unprecedented number of hits. It would have been nearly impossible for Fergie to deliver another album as overflowing with pure pop gold, but it doesn’t make it feel any less disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, “Double Dutchess” is a good album; the problem is that “Dutchess” is objectively better. Thankfully for Fergie, I think I speak for the masses when I say I’ll always lose my mind when I hear “Glamorous” or “London Bridge.” Even if none of the tracks on “Double Dutchess” reach this level of pop prestige, it’s still a Fergalicious listening experience. As Minaj purrs on her feature, “make some noise for my girl Fergie Ferg.”

Artist: Fergie

Album: Double Dutchess

Label: Dutchess Music/BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

Favorite Track: Hungry ft. Rick Ross

If you like: Rihanna, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus

Shamrocks: 3/5

 

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