Following what seemed like an eternity of waiting, No Doubt finally came through on their promise of a comeback with Push And Shove, their first album in eleven years. In that amount of time, lead singer Gwen Stefani released two successful solo albums along with many other ventures including several clothing lines and a perfume while Tony Kanal collaborated with artists like Pink, Weezer and others.
The band plays around with many different sounds on the record, blending the old and familiar with sounds that aren’t characteristic of the band. With that said, there isn’t anything too out of the ordinary on this record and for a band who came up with fresh songs like Just A Girl, Bath Water and Hella Good, that comes as a bit of a surprise. Things are kept relatively safe and on the downlow on the record. There are catchy melodies as the songs warm up but there is little that stands out. What felt like the comeback of the year is instead merely happy return. Songs that have the potential to set the foundation for making memories with – ones like Sparkle and Gravity – have the makings of becoming sentimental tunes.
The first glimpse into the new album, Settle Down, was a nice mix connecting their dancehall sound from Rock Steady with more modernized stylish pop. It’s the No Doubt we’ve come to love but not a rehash from what they’ve already done. Looking Hot is the song most reminiscent of their classic Tragic Kingdom days featuring one of the few instances of Gwen’s signature vocal style that flooded that record. Though it’s more Hey You than Spiderwebs. The album’s lowest point comes with Easy, a sound-alike to the early 90s adult contemporary fare of Diane Warren-penned songs. Radio friendly melody but ultimately forgettable. They make up for that, however, with the most adventurous track Push And Shove, with its brilliant arrangement, tempo changes and exciting exchanges between Gwen and Busy Signal as they trade lines back and forth. It easily surpasses Hey Baby as their top reggae-centric song.
Gwen’s ability to be able to separate her cute solo-artist persona from her No Doubt-lead-singer self is impressive when you consider just how different the audiences between the two are and that both were successful. The fact that longtime fans of No Doubt haven’t been alienated by her solo pop albums and their subsequent success is a feat in itself. Even if Push And Shove doesn’t live up to the long wait that those longtime fans have endured, it still satisfies the appetite and confirms for everyone that No Doubt is and always was a group effort. They’ve just grown up a bit over the years.
1. Settle Down
2. Looking Hot
3. One More Summer
4. Push And Shove [featuring Busy Signal and Major Lazor]
11. Dreaming The Same Dream