HEAR IT: Gwen Stefani’s First Solo in 8 Years, ‘Baby Don’t Lie’

Gwen Stefani wields her way into 2014 with her first fresh solo since 2006, “Baby Don’t Lie.” The new single is dancy and synth-ridden, which makes for a club-banger shoe-in.

For those clutching your ears whispering pleasedon’tsuckpleasedon’tsuck, don’t fret. It’s good. Better than most filler on the radio of late. But if you’re hoping for the No Doubt tunes of yesteryear, cut the cord. “Baby Don’t Lie” updates Stefani’s look with buzzing drum beats and the dramatic rise and falls of trance melodies. More house, less punky. Or maybe, more Gwen, less No Doubt?

Co-written with producers Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic, Beyoncé), Benny Blanco (Katy Perry) and Noel Zancanella (Maroon 5), the song muses about the usual romantic fodder — a deep-seeded need for a better, more exciting love. Stefani croons “I need a love that’s stronger” in the chorus, emphasizing the urgency with the ultimatum “If we ever give up, then we’re gonna die.” Noted. So far, the reception to the new track ranges from lukewarm to ecstatic reactions from die-hard fans rejoicing the end of the 8-year drought.

Gwen Stefani’s ‘Baby Don’t Lie’

“Baby Don’t Lie” ushers in the first listen to the singer’s third still-untitled solo album. Yet the onslaught of co-writers and co-producers comfortable with slinging Billboard-ready hits may hint at the lack of innovation in her latest work. Think back to her days of her collabing with No Doubt bandmate and ex-lover Tony Kanal to roll out raw, curious tracks that at first glance didn’t sound like hits until they took over your iPods.

So while “Baby Don’t Lie” is a well-armored single fortified and dressed by some of the best in the industry, you’re not witnessing an artist take any chances. Luckily, Stefani’s signature vocals are in no danger of being lost. The singer’s familiar edge sinks into the new-age rhythms, making them distinctly her own — something that not many in the industry can do.

Back last September, Billboard mentioned that the upcoming album is set for a December release date and will include production magic from Voice co-star Pharrell Williams. ‘Til then, sit tight and hope that we aren’t looking at the second coming of “Happy” — which has been stuck in our heads since day one. For better or worse.