Here are more reviews of the Push And Shove album-once again,congrats to No Doubt on the well-deserved praise!
It’s a sacred truism (that we just made up): Wait four years between albums and everyone will expect a masterpiece. Wait 11 years, and unless that album is “Chinese Democracy,” audiences will be happy to have anything at all. If you are Gwen Stefani, audiences will forgive you anything upon your return, even if on your album’s title track you sing-rap “La vida loca/Speeding it up like soca” and then something about yoga, in the sort of fake Jamaican accent Nicki Minaj hears in her nightmares, mon.
The sweet, dippy “Push and Shove” is No Doubt’s first album in almost a generation. It’s backward-looking, more interested in reminding fans how good they were than in making a case for their continued relevance. But nostalgia for the fictional past has always been No Doubt’s default state — they’re like the Beach Boys of O.C. mall ska. These days, their palpable, ’80s-and-’90s-centered longing is on trend, and the band mines that vein for all it’s worth, referencing usual touchstones like Madness, newer ones like New Order (on “One More Summer,” the best of several taffy-like ballads) and cannibalizing themselves on “Settle Down,” the finest No Doubt song of 1999.
Stefani’s lyrics are still the diary scribblings of a world-weary fifth-year senior, with minimal references to adult things like fame or kids. But growing up isn’t all bad: There are a lot of adorable songs about being married to Gavin Rossdale (like “Underneath it All” heir “Gravity”), but if you were married to Gavin Rossdale, you would mention it a lot, too. And “Looking Hot,” the best non-love song here, vibrates with a mix of imperiousness and amusement that Gwen the Ingenue never could have mustered.
— Allison Stewart
“Gravity,” “One More Summer,” “Looking Hot”
No Doubt fans have been waiting for the band’s sixth album anxiously for the past 11 years. In the decade after releasing “Rock Steady,” the four members have toured together, started families (separately) and pursued a few solo projects.
From the first listen one can tell it was worth the wait. “Push and Shove” returns to the group’s type of ska mixed with dancehall, electro pop and a pinch of magic, expertly dished out by producer Spike Stent. The resulting 11-track album doesn’t sound a day over 1995’s “Tragic Kingdom,” but that doesn’t make it dated. It’s that rare breed of record that carries the musicians’ touch wherever on the timeline.
No Doubt songs have a way of letting you know they’re not anyone else’s. Despite misleading beginning notes such as the light pop touch synth on “Easy” or the exotic violins of “Push and Shove” and the straight rock of “Uncover,” they all evolve into the No Doubt sound sooner or later, the type of playful rock that lulls you in with its genuine joie de vivre and lack of artifice.
Gwen Stefani, who has carved a successful career as a solo artist and fashion designer during the band’s hiatus, radiates energy and reminds us why she is the ultimate rock chick.
The lyrics of Stefani and Tony Kanal remain in the realm of the romantic, of the mundane insecurities of long-term relationships without losing the poetic edge: “Just like Venus and the morning sun/You and me got gravity.”
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: “Undone” is the flavorful ballad you’ve been waiting for to take a walk in the park under the autumn foliage and mope around.
No Doubt went from an obscure local SoCal ska band to commercial success in 1995 when lead single, “Just a Girl” off third studio album Tragic Kingdom, turned a then twenty-six year old Gwen Stefani into the poster girl for new age rock chicks who combined sex appeal with power.
The album, which chronicled the intense break up between Stefani and bandmate/guitarist Tony Kanal, set the stage for a long career on mainstream pop charts for not only the band, but also served as a launching pad for Stefani’s success as a solo artist and fashion designer. It’s been 11 years since No Doubt’s last studio album, Rock Steady, and nearly 17 years since Tragic Kingdom, and yet new album, Push and Shove, still sounds as fresh as can be in the cluttered landscape of 4-on-the-floor-Guetta-inspired dance trends.
That’s not to say No Doubt hasn’t capitalized on the trend by calling upon some of today’s hottest producers, namely Diplo’s Major Lazer on title track “Push and Shove,” which features reggae artist Busy Signal. Major Lazer infuses some dancehall and dubstep flair into the band’s now trademark rock/ska sound for this refreshing collaboration. And while lead single, “Settle Down,” hasn’t burned up the charts, it’s still an impressive re-introduction to the band, boasts positivity, and sets the stage for what’s to come.
Stefani, now 42-years-old, still juxtaposes sexuality with strength in both looks and lyrics and she’s not afraid to flaunt it. See “Looking Hot,” a not-so-subtle ode to the singer’s hotness, which melds uptempo rock with Euro-trash synths before injecting a reggae breakdown midway through the cut. Its predictability is overlooked in favor of Stefani’s swagger, who can honestly make any song sound cool (B-A-N-A-N-A-S anyone?).
But where No Doubt truly shines is on the new-wave inspired “One More Summer,” where synths (so many synths!) and an ever-present kick drum, are paired perfectly with Stefani’s nostalgic lyrics. Meanwhile, “Undone” is quite possibly one of the most beautiful ballads Stefani has penned since her epic breakup anthem “Don’t Speak.” Not saying it’s on par with the enormity that “Don’t Speak” had on both No Doubt’s career and fans’ psyches, but it will suffice as one of the much needed quieter moments of Push and Shove.
Long-time No Doubt fans will most likely gravitate to the dancehall inspired “Sparkle,” which opens with big brassy horns and an insatiable bass line groove courtesy of Tony Kanal. And while Stefani ruminates over a lost love, I can’t help but think of this song as a metaphorical love letter to fans after the decade hiatus. She sings, “Sometimes I feel like I just passed you by/And left you standing in your pain…I know it’s never gonna be the way it was/How Can it?/Feelings change and people can get lost/But I still think of you so much/Do you remember how it was?” before giving way to a stellar trumpet solo and one last plea, “I still care about you so much….”
The question is, 11 years removed from the music industry, do you still care about No Doubt? Will Push and Shove resonate with a younger generation the way Tragic Kingdom did with teenagers of the 90s? Only time will tell, but us thirty-somethings are happy to have quality new music from one of the most cohesively talented bands in pop music history.
No Doubt’s Push and Shove is available tomorrow, September 25th, via digital retailers and stores.
Standout Tracks: “Settle Down” (get the Major Lazer Remix!), “One More Summer,” “Undone” and “Sparkle”
Push and Shove
** ½ stars (out of four)
“Do you think I’m looking hot?” Gwen Stefani asks on the second track of Push and Shove, No Doubt’s first studio album since 2001. In case you’re on the fence, there are photos of the 42-year-old mother of two in the album art, flashing her still-taut abs, as her male bandmates sport playfully quaint post-punk hairstyles.
In their new music, too, the band members seek to show their roots while making a case for their enduring freshness and relevance. Eleven years is several lifetimes in pop music, but Gwen and the guys are betting that the mix of rock, ska and techno-pop textures they inherited from ‘80s new wave bands, brightened with more contemporary electronic dance touches, will strike a chord with today’s kids.
Thus we get the shiny, thumping grooves in the aforementioned Looking Hot, the percolating drama of single Settle Down, the polished Jamaican sway of Sparkle — none of them first-rate pop songs, but hardly stale either, and as ingratiating on average as No Doubt’s older hits.
Stefani’s nasal, mildly piquant voice is still an effective vehicle, at once human in its limitations and sassy in its aspirations. In fact, in a pop culture where raw talent is increasingly less important than raw yearning, No Doubt’s frontwoman seems as contemporary as ever.
Download:Previously mentioned tracks, Dreaming the Same Dream
Gwen Stefani is the Great American Girl, isn’t she? Even when she married an Englishman, she kept her SoCal style and accent; the only roots she’s ever denied are in her hair. Like her No Doubt bandmates, Gwen is who she is, no poses. Amazingly, Push And Shove (out today, September 25) is the band’s first album since the mega-hit Rock Steady in 2001, and Gwen’s first recorded music since her second solo album in 2006. “Everything’s changed, I’ve changed a lot,” she sings on “Heaven.” No Doubt now have a classroom full of children and side projects that extended Push And Shove’s production by a few years. The slowly cooked results are spectacular: No Doubt’s best album to date.
The group has an incredible knack for sounding pleasingly familiar, while including on-the-tip touches like a raver keyboard on “Gravity” or the use of Diplo’s Major Lazer on the title track. If great production is signaled by a song’s cool nooks and crannies, Push And Shove is loaded with plenty of such brilliant moments:
•The way the bouncing horns disintegrate just before the title track’s first chorus.
•Gwen’s raw, yearning “I’m gonna be there” vocal in the final minute of “Easy” — easily her gutsiest vocal in years.
•The surging final minute of album closer “Dreaming The Same Dream,” a serious cell-phones-aloft arena moment.
Push And Shove leans more toward ’80s influenced LA pop than it does ska. Several of the tracks have reggae/dancehall influences laced in, but they don’t overwhelm. First single “Settle Down” is perhaps the most classically “No Doubt” song on the album. While it divided fans, it’s actually a ballsy return to the pop scene: A six minute single – who does that?! – with an imperial string prelude and a dubby breakdown so chill that you briefly think the song has ended.
Lyrically, the album is stacked with funny, baked phrases like “I’m on a hit and run, a yummy yummy yum” on “Easy” or the title track’s rap: “We be on another level like we’re doing yoga!” But Gwen’s gained wisdom with age, delivering wry doses of reality like “You’re… making me weak and that’s a comment, not a compliment” from “Dreaming The Same Dream.”
“Undone” may be the saddest ballad No Doubt has ever recorded. Gwen delivers one of her purest, most plaintive vocals, with a lyric that’s tempting to read into: “I’m in trouble, help me / No one needs you more than me.” She recently told Marie Claire that she and husband Gavin Rossdale are “better…than ever.”
What a rare thrill to hear a band produce an album so strong 26 years into their career. Gwen, Tony, Tom and Adrian deliver eleven near-perfect songs adding up to what may be the most listenable, kick-ass pop record of 2012.
The Best Song That’s Not The Single (YET): The romantic mid-tempo offering “One More Summer” is a sister to Gwen’s own solo single “Cool.”
Best Listened To While…: Touching up your platinum blond roots (boys too!) or engaging in illicit activity involving rolling papers.
Quotable Quotes: The Gwenspeak is typically rad. Next time someone asks how you’re doing, just quote “Settle Down” and sass back, “I’m hella positive for real!”
Idolator Rating: 5/5
— Stephen Sears
Gwen Stefani poses some big questions on “Push and Shove,” the first album from her SoCal ska-pop band in 11 years.
“What happened to us?” she wonders in the shimmering, neo-new wave “Undercover,” while the bass-heavy “Sparkle” finds her asking, “Do you remember how it was?”
In context, each of these queries is addressed to a lover (or a warmly remembered ex). “Feelings change and people can get lost,” she continues in “Sparkle,” her lightweight voice heavy with regret, “But I still think of you so much.”
There’s no denying, though, that for a group whose last studio disc came out in 2001 — before Lady Gaga, before Katy Perry, and before the huge solo success of Stefani herself — all that romantic curiosity serves as a rephrasing of another question, one the singer boils to its essence not long into “Push and Shove”: “Do you think I’m looking hot?”
Yes, it’s been a virtual lifetime in pop since we last heard new music from No Doubt, which rocketed out of Orange County with 1995’s gazillion-selling “Tragic Kingdom” and went on to become one of that decade’s most important acts. And though the band’s influence is clear in the glossy, vividly omnivorous work of fresh-faced stars like fun. and Carly Rae Jepsen, Stefani and her bandmates sound fully aware of the precarious position they’re in now, at a moment when the Top 40 is crammed with newcomers and long-term brand loyalty has all but evaporated among young listeners.
“We’re so lucky, still holding on,” she sings in “Gravity.”
In fact, they’re doing more than that: At its best, “Push and Shove” channels some of the infectiously restless energy of “Rock Steady,” the band’s pre-hiatus farewell. And it further polishes a bold mix-and-match aesthetic that feels familiar today in part because of records such as “Tragic Kingdom.”
“I’m like a trend / I’m back and forth,” Stefani sings over the surging electro-funk of “Heaven,” and that’s how No Doubt works here, pumping up a pounding arena-rave beat in “Looking Hot,” then scaling down to a spooky synth pulse for “Easy”; elsewhere, the group imports Bollywood-style strings in “Settle Down” and recruits the producer Diplo for a jolt of dancehall electricity in the title track.
As during No Doubt’s heyday, there’s an unembarrassed quality to all the dabbling on “Push and Shove” — which, true, is how you end up with a lyric like “La-la-la-la vida loca / We speeding it up like soca,” but also how you get a tune as gloriously ’80s-indebted as “One More Summer.” The members even borrow from their own catalog: “Sparkle” is more or less a rewrite of Stefani’s solo hit “Cool” with added rocksteady horns.
So to answer Stefani’s question: Sure, No Doubt is still looking hot. But these alt-pop survivors are acknowledging their age too, emphasizing what they can do that Selena Gomez perhaps can’t.
Near the end of “Push and Shove,” the band (which will begin a six-night stand at L.A.’s Gibson Amphitheatre on Nov. 24) clears away all the au courant electronic clutter for “Undone,” a lush troubled-love ballad in the vein of old No Doubt hits like “Don’t Speak” and “Simple Kind of Life.”
“I made you feel like you were lucky to have me,” Stefani sings, crystallizing a sentiment countless pop songs dance around. “But now I’m panicking, I’m lost / You’re the one I need / Be patient please.”
If she’s talking to us, she’s bought herself a few more years.
“Push and Shove”