Fergie made the most of her first solo album, The Dutchess, the culmination of over 20 years in the business, a multi-platinum smash with five singles that were either unavoidable or close to it. Eight years later, after two more albums with the Black Eyed Peas, she released the first single off what became her follow-up. "L.A.LOVE (La La)," outfitted with co-production from DJ Mustard and a verse from YG, and shouts to many other locations including Kingston and Jamaica, arrived just after the somewhat Fergalicious Iggy Azalea crashed the mainstream. It wasn't nearly as successful as the debut's singles -- not in the U.S., at least -- but it did go platinum. Three more years passed prior to the arrival of Double Dutchess, which seemed to signal some hesitancy, though the period was likely lengthened by Fergie's split from Interscope and the establishment of her BMG-supported Dutchess Music label. With a little help from BEP partner will.i.am, and input from past and new cross-genre production associates ranging from Toby Gad and Polow da Don to Cirkut and Alesso, Double Dutchess is similar to The Dutchess in makeup. It mixes nostalgic and contemporary rap elements, applies references to various global sounds, and veers from cartoonish club tracks and belting pop ballads. Fergie's in typically uninhibited, sometimes irreverent form, commanding "Ladies, rub on your titties" (on a track where she also recalls Salt-N-Pepa and Audio Two), swapping carefree verses with Nicki Minaj over the inexhaustible "Think (About It)" break, singing in falsetto over slick neo-disco, and wailing in the red on the cathartic finale. Amid all the sensible updates to the debut's approach is a slight surprise, "Enchanté (Carine)," a loopy, sugary French-English number with Fergie's son along for the ride, sounding like the second coming of Jordy. Double Dutchess couldn't possibly match the commercial success of The Dutchess, and much of it is merely adequate, but Fergie is demonstrably as energized, and having a ball with nothing left to prove.
Double Dutchess Review
by Andy Kellman