Review: No Doubt – Push and Shove
Published on October 3rd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Gwen Stefani and co return with their first studio album in over a decade, although anyone who was a fan of the band in their heyday – even anyone who remembers “Don’t Speak” or “Just a Girl” blaring out the radio every five minutes – might wonder just how disingenuous a gesture it could be that Push and Shove has been released under the No Doubt moniker.
Basically, the overwhelming majority of these tracks sound more like the product of Stefani with a team of producers than any kind of band effort. Take opener and single “Settle Down”: there are bits of guitar, but they feel token amidst the prevailing air of production line pop sheen. It’s vivacious, even charmingly skanking, but it’s hard not to feel cheated, especially once the quality levels drop, which is immediately afterwards.
“Looking Good” does good by its title, prizing style over substance and even replicating “Settle Down” by throwing in a dubby breakdown, while the title track features a dancehall guest rap, a ravey sort of carnival feel, and such lyrical gems as “Take a ride with me / If that’s alright / We’ll shine so bright”. Clearly the genius behind that can also be credited for “We’re so lucky / And just like Venus in the morning sun, you and me got gravity” from “Gravity”.
By now the tracks are passing with so little incident that they might as well be one long nasal warble over an identikit ‘bitter-sweet’ pop progression; “What happened to us?” asks “Undercover”, and this line could conceivably have been penned by her (erstwhile?) band mates, ditto “Don’t leave me behind” from obligatory power-ballad “Undone”.
In mitigation, “Undone” does sound like a band, and so does the ska-ish, “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”-borrowing-from “Sparkle”, but curtain-closer “Dreaming the Same Dream” – an absolute shoe-in for television sport coverage, it’s only fair to warn you – inadvertently reflects with its title the predominant sameness that blights Push and Shove.
Overall, this is flat, uninspired, and quite possibly deceitful. Did someone say “reunion tour cash-in”?
(Caution: this album features the lyric “baby, you’re my heaven” delivered apparently in all seriousness.)
Rocksucker says: One Quail out of Five!
Push and Shove is out now on Polydor. For more information, please visit www.nodoubt.com