It’s hard to believe that it’s been 11 years since front-woman Gwen Stefani and the rest of No Doubt released any new material. Since then, the music scene has been graced with over a decade of new bands and music, changing and introducing an array of new sounds and directions for the industry. However, it’s hard to detect any change in time in the band’s latest album, “Push and Shove.”
The opening track is an introduction of horns and disintegrating sounds. However, it quickly becomes much more than that. There’s an awfully distinct, but still familiar sounding reggae feel to the song, and although it shouldn’t work, it’s classic No Doubt. The brief dubstep-esque breakdowns scattered throughout the song lend time to the fact that this single is, in fact, six minutes long.
“Looking Hot” is the kind of song that sounds exactly like it should. With a title as so, it’s an electronically mixed dance tune with lyrics that depict “I know you wanna stare/You can’t help it and I don’t care.” Again, it’s catchy, and definitely strays more into the dubstep territory that seems to remain on the back burner through a majority of this album. There’s nothing intricate or lyrically provoking whatsoever, but you probably shouldn’t expect that with a title like so; it’s a party song to say the least, nothing more and nothing less.
It’s difficult to pick a standout track when the competition stands between “One More Summer” and “Undercover.” ‘Summer’ is mid-tempo, fun and casually romantic sounding. It’s not the typical song you’d expect to be blasting in your car or throughout your house, but that was the exact situation I found myself in while I listened to it, and for some strange reason, it seemed fitting. “Undercover,” while it’s a good song nonetheless, seems interchangeable with the few tracks it’s wedged between. And while this can be a downside to the lack of diversity amongst the middle of the album, it’s clear that Stefani knows her strengths, and knows how to write what she’s good at.
It’s obvious that the band was looking for an understandably more mature or just different kind of sound this time around, but it isn’t really until “Undone,” the album’s only ballad, that we’re given a distinct change of tempo. Above all, the basis of the track is pure tragedy; the lyrics (“I’m broke/Let me show you where it hurts/I’m trying to be brave/This wasn’t in my plan”), the slow pace of the song, and just the feel of every last bit of emotion that Stefani puts into it. Overwhelmingly, it depicts exactly what it’s supposed to and then some.
‘Push’ ends on a familiar note. “Dreaming the Same Dream” sounds incredibly similar to Stefani’s 2005 hit “Cool,” however I might even say that I prefer the latter. There’s nothing incredibly outstanding about the closer, but then again, there’s nothing that really sets it neither back nor apart either.
Mediocre or not, I’m sure fans are just excited to have some new material after a give-or-take decade-long hiatus. And while the album has its highs and lows, it’s good to see a return nonetheless. Their following and cred amongst the music scene is undeniable, regardless of what sort of music or direction they decide to go in, or if they even continue from here on out. As a singer, Stefani delivers the same kind of poppy, enthused lyrics and, for the most part, upbeat melodies that threw the band into such a successful mix to begin with; as for the future, it’ll be nothing less than interesting to see if they can deliver something that’ll further them back to the peak of success they’ve established up to now.