When I first heard No Doubt was releasing a new album, my first thought was, “Do people still listen to ska?” A whopping 11 years older, the band members are in completely different places in their lives, as are their original fans.
Most of the lyrics are dumbed down to a painful, tedious point and I found myself wishing they’d added more depth and detail. In Looking Hot, Gwen Stefani says, “Go ahead and look at me. Cause that’s what I want.” And continues to repeat, “Cause that’s what I want,” over and over. We get it Gwen, you want people to look at you. In Undone, she strums on with, “I’m broke. Let me show where it hurts,” diluting relationship troubles as if they were watered down coffee.
Infusing dub step and a synthetic pop flavor modernized the album and gave it the flair that seems to save most groups lacking a robust singer and diverse musicians.
Diplo’s influence on the title-track, Push and Shove, makes it the most unique number on the album, seamlessly easing from style to style.
Sparkle brings back the ska/reggae sound that made No Doubt so famous to begin with and it’s easy to lean into the chorus and picture long drives down the California coast.
The acoustic version of One More Summer is surprisingly graceful and sweet. Unlike the full version of the track, the lyrics don’t feel drippy and stilted, but instead position Gwen Stefani as a nostalgic, wiser grown-up woman.
Kudos to No Doubt for giving it another go and re-energizing the group’s sound before it disappeared into a 90s compilation CD. If you loved No Doubt a generation ago, you’ll step right back into where they left off in 2001’s “Rock Steady.