A No Doubt Review, 11 Years in the Making!

To give perspective about when the last No Doubt album was released, I was in middle school and eagerly awaiting to see them on TRL. I got "Rock Steady" and wasn't allowed near it until Christmas, because the album dropped in December. When I did get my grubby paws on it, I remember feeling like I didn't quite love it, but I enjoyed it enough. I mean "Waiting Room" may have featured Prince, and Prince is awesome in his own, but perhaps Prince and No Doubt shouldn't mix.

Don't speak, I know what you're thinking.

"RS" divided No Doubt fans because it featured such a dynamic change. You either loved it or hated it- the sudden transition to dancehall and more pop sounds, etc. But, at the end of the day, it was the band doing what they loved and even earned a place on Rolling Stone's "500 Best Albums of All Time." So the band was doing something right!

Now things are different. I'm out of school and working, and TRL is no longer around (RIP). The band is in their forties and I can't be a little intrigued by how they will handle aging. So far, I feel they've done so gracefully, but I mean- how will they handle their fifties and sixties? ... I prefer not to think about it. Lots of bands have been able to carry on into middle age and beyond okay; I should suspect No Doubt (Gwen still looks 25!) will be the same.

your favorite band isn't a.) this good-looking b.) stylish
"Push and Shove" is, again, a potentially divisive record. At times, it even channels dubstep and more up-to-date electronic sounds- as well as still some dancehall, reggae and lots of synthpop in the right places. It's like a hybrid of "RS" and the alt-rock of "Return of Saturn." It's also like a time capsule from the 1980s, especially on tracks like the second single "Looking Hot." Lastly:  it's quintessential No Doubt. I don't know if clarification is needed with that statement. But it's a natural record for them to have made right now and because of that, I am content.

Diplo, Major Lazer, Busy Signal all make appearances. Fact (like this is 2009 again and I'm using it in every sentence)- I LOVE DIPLO. So I was besides myself when I heard he was working with Gwen (god) and the boyz themselves. His influence is definitely there- esp. on the title track, which is amazing upon repeated listens and quite powerful. "Push and Shove" I hated the first time I heard, but I think it's the best song off the album, easily. It's got brass and it's ultimately just a great song. "Settle Down" was the first song any mortal heard off the album, and while it's a good song, it's definitely something that wears out. "Push and Shove" I have yet to tire of from my listening...which is like every day. Let's look at the video, which is amazing- Gwen's houndstooth overcoat, I want, for reasons I don't understand. 

My lifelong Gwen infatuation will never ease. Okay! Moving on. 

At initial listen, it's tempting to dismiss some of these tracks as mere filler. And every No Doubt album has filler, believe me. However, I have grown to love tracks I detested. Like "Sparkle." The intro is awful, but once you get into the meat of the song, it's awesome. Gwen's lyrics, while never overly deep, are tender and the horns are reminiscent of old school No Doubt. 

Another great feature of "Push and Shove" is the fact its a collaborative effort. This band is at peace with one another and you can obviously hear it! I find it comforting and reassuring. They have been a band for about twenty years and now, they seem stronger than ever. Bass, guitar, drums. Each member gets their moment. 

And for some people- who wanted this to really be Gwen's third solo album- this is a little bit of what they did not want. But, for me, it's perfect in that light. No Doubt seems to be like a democracy- and yeah their was friction in the past- but I think they've moved way past that. Huzzah!

"Undercover" is my personal favorites. Very 80s but so catchy:  I wish it'd be released as a single but I don't think it will be. Then, there is "Easy," in which Gwen states "I'm a hustler...." which is a motif. I don't understand how she is a hustler, but that is cool. I mean perhaps I missed the boat, but every time Gwen discusses hustling I just smirk. 

I have to say "Dreaming the Same Dream," which I heard so much hullabaloo about pre-release, is actually kind of weak. Like it just builds up to this climax that never happens. It's not horrible, but you can pass it really. "One More Summer" is all right- "I'm your lover, you're my weakness"- and "Looking Hot" swaggers around like the sibling to "Hella Good." "Looking Hot" actually is an impressive rock song. The guitar cuts through on it. 

What could hold the album back at times, though, is Gwen's voice. I love Gwen's voice and so do a lot of other people (um, duh). But at time she just doesn't have the chops to reach the notes she wants. There is that- if you listen to "Push and Shove," you will know what I mean.  HOWEVER, she also sounds a lot like she did when "Tragic Kingdom" was released. Swoon. 

So:  11 years and now "Push and Shove" is here. It's a welcome and strong comeback. If you go into it with a love of No Doubt, you will be rewarded. 


it sounds like this, actually. use your imagination!