Entertainment Entertainment Music

Album review: No Doubt, `Push and Shove'

Let's make one thing clear: Gwen Stefani still has it. Gwen Stefani will always have it. But in the 11 (!) years since "Rock Steady" was released, No Doubt may have decided to lean too much on what's going to make them commercially successful and less on what's innovative and edgy.

It's tough to talk about any No Doubt release without evoking their roots. The band's 1995 breakout "Tragic Kingdom" was a watershed album. I was the furthest thing from cool as a fifth-grader, but screaming along to "Just a Girl," "Spiderwebs" and "Don't Speak" was one of my first glimpses of an outside world where it was OK to be yourself. It was a work of art both heady and comforting.

Five years later I wasn't as drawn to the group’s follow-up, "Return of Saturn," but I revisited it for this review, and holy cow. "Simple Kind of Life" is absolutely shattering. If you haven't listened to it since you were 15, you haven't really heard it.

"Push and Shove" can't approach that kind of emotional response. Instead, it's mostly bouncy, ska-tinged fun. The title track especially sounds like the band I know and love, starting off fast and thumping, transitioning into a great, slower vocal layer, then rolling in Major Lazer and the horns. It's a top-down, summer cruising adventure.

On the flip side, "One More Summer" looks to be the album's lower-key song of longing; there's just a little too much energy in the beachy backing guitars. "Undone" serves the same purpose more effectively, as Gwen laments, "This time I need you, nothin's feeling right. Oh I'm in trouble, help me, no one needs you more than me."

Knowing that she's happily married with two kids and a booming personal brand, it's tougher to identify with 2012 Gwen's struggles. There's something just a little too slick and produced about her emotions these days.

Maybe that's the biggest catch-22 of No Doubt's success: More fans enjoy their work, but there's even greater pressure to produce widely appealing content. That great "Tragic Kingdom" connection isn't lost, but the layer of commercialization that sits on top is tough to ignore.

damoran@tribune.com  |  @redeyedana

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge
    Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge

    An argument over a woman led to one man being killed and another wounded during a shooting inside a South Loop music lounge early Saturday, police said.

  • Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise
    Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise

    Members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity apparently learned a racist chant that recently got their chapter disbanded during a national leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the fraternity's national administration, the university's president said Friday.

  • In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing
    In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing

    Someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before an explosion that leveled three apartment buildings and injured nearly two dozen people, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday as firefighters soaked the still-smoldering buildings and police searched for at least two missing people.

  • Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden
    Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reduced spending and increased fines, fees and certain taxes to shrink the chronic budget deficits left over from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

  • Six Flags Great America's lost attractions
    Six Flags Great America's lost attractions

    Not every ride's the Willard's Whizzer. That iconic coaster debuted in 1976 when Marriott's Great America, now Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, Ill., first opened. And it's still popular today. But for every Whizzer there's a Tidal Wave, Shockwave or Z-Force, rides existing only in memory.

  • Denim's just getting started
    Denim's just getting started

    Five years ago, denim-on-denim defied all of the dire warnings in the "Undateable" handbook: Instead of evoking John Denver or Britney Spears in her misstyled youth, chambray shirts paired with darker blue jeans became as cool as actor Johnny Depp and street-style heroine Alexa Chung.

Comments
Loading