Fergie blessed us with one of the best pop records of 2006. “The Dutchess” spawned the hit singles and absolute anthems “Fergalicious”, London Bridge”, “Glamorous” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. Eleven years on and the songstress is finally ready to give us the sequel. The hype for this record was ridiculous because of the high expectations its predecessor set and it breaks my heart to say that it doesn’t come anywhere close. “Double Dutchess” is an ambitious collection of pop meets RNB tracks that dabble with her hip hop roots and experiments with electronic influences. Opening with the hip-hop flavoured “Hungry” she offers hard beats with a throwback rap delivery and while its a bit of an odd song, it works well in re-introducing her to the listener. “Like It Ain’t Nuttin” is a funky track that instantly reminds me of “Here I Come” from her debut and is the classic Fergie you were hoping for. But then it goes downhill from there. The main issue revolves around the production. She had eleven years to make this album perfect so I’m unsure as to why it sounded rushed and messy. “You Already Know” should have been the strongest song on this record after so much hype surrounding Nicki Minaj’s guest rap but instead it was ultimately the biggest disappointment. Her vocals during the hook are off key and sound like they haven’t been mastered yet and taken from a different recording session compared to the rest of the track. Even Nicki’s rap is a tad anti-climatic with no memorable lines except for her classic “Bitches is my son’s” reference. Even though “L.A Love (La La La)” came out three years ago and epically flopped it somehow still found its way onto the record along with “M.I.L.F.$” and “Life Goes On” which were both a lot better but still made no impact on the charts. To put it politely “Save It Till Morning” is bland, “Love Is Blind” is forgettable and “Love Is Pain” is a bit torturous. That song has epic potential to be vulnerable and emotionally captivating but instead her vocal delivery made the song painful to listen to. In between the spectrum was the nostalgic “Tension” which had a groovy baseline while “Enchante” impressed with it’s unique production. While it is a tad annoying it’s also very catchy and got stuck in my head instantly. However the strongest moments came from the mid-tempo ballads “Just Like You” and “A Little Work”. These songs were a lot more genuine and didn’t seem forced or attempt to be anything else musically. It was just her and some raw lyrics and it was the vulnerability and personality I was waiting to hear the whole record. On “A Little Work” she reflects on those dark thoughts where you question all the negative moments in your life and realise that your not alone. “We’re all just a little bit broken. We’re all just a little bit hurt. We’ve all got wounds half open. We all can use a little work”. And then on “Just Like You” she admits that she’s a little crazy and embraces it. It’s an empowering sound I wish we got to hear more of instead of the production messes we did receive. The entire album had great ideas, honest lyrics and some catchy hooks but the production was all over the place sonically and felt rushed. It’s quite a compact album at only 11 tracks long so I can’t even blame it on most of them being album filler, it’s sadly just the quality of the songs. I really do wish it was better and while there are songs I will be adding to my playlists this record won’t have the same effect as its predecessor.