No Doubt fans had to wait for a long time. Their last album was in 2001, and if was the slightly underwhelming Rock Steady. Then came the long hiatus that saw Gwen Stefani touring the world in her slightly overcommercialized version of pop. Then she ran out of fresh ideas, I guess, and the band reunited. Then they promised an album (I almost said, a CD) for 2010. Then nothing happened. Then, finally, on June 11th, 2012, they finally had something to show.
Now, one would think that after 11 years, the first release would have to be one giant spectacle of music. Or one tired old dozer. They either still have it, or they lost it. I mean, in terms of music a decade is a huge distance, especially in the new Millennium, and maybe No Doubt was really not that good in the first place. Who knows.
What happened, instead, is a little odd. No Doubt has made its mark with high energy, ska-influenced pop beats like Just a Girl or Hella Good, or alternately heart-felt ballads like Don’t Speak. Push and Shove has some of that, but it also has an astonishing amount of “fillers.”
There sure are exciting songs in the collection. The titular Push and Shove is clearly of today, an energetic glorification of weed set to an arresting beat. It’s become my gym song as of lately, and the rapid change in mood from steamrolling to circumspection serves the place well.
The equally high-energy Settle Down is more old-school, we could have written it in 2000 but we waited 12 years. It is still musically exciting and fun to listen to. In particular, it features an inspired intro and outro.
Of the other songs, Sparkle has some more of that reggae goodness that is so nuclear to the identity of the band. One More Summer has some of the qualities of a No Doubt ballad, while Looking Hot is more high-energy.
The problem I have with Looking Hot and the other (not mentioned) songs in this album is that they are very generic. While there are elements that are recognizable in most of them, all in all they sound like everyman pop. They could be Lady Gaga, they could be Katy Perry. We even have one country-ish song (Undone).
It’s not that these songs are bad. Gwen Stefani does an adequate job on all of them, and the band executes well. Production quality is what you’d expect from a gig that has real resources behind it.
But, really, we waited 11 years for this? Not so cool.