Monday 1 October 2012

No Doubt - Push and Shove



Rather than the ska/punk-rock of No Doubt's earliest material from the mid-90s, 'Push and Shove' (their first proper album since 2001's 'Rock Steady') mixes in a strong dance flavour that pulls the band into the new decade.

Latest single Settle Down is a good benchmark for the new album - bright and vibrant, with ska rhythms, pop melodies and some light electronica (especially at the tail end).  Looking Hot has an electro-rock feel that would suit both a live gig and the dance floor.  One More Summer similarly fuses electronic and rock elements that's almost Killer's-esque, but with a chorus that's pure pop.  Title track Push and Shove (featuring Major Lazer) has a ska verse coloured with plenty of brass, before slamming down a dub-step inspired chorus.  Like Major Lazer's own work, it's an addictive blend of ska and dance and a real album highlight.  Easy takes a typical power-ballad and adds a humming sub-bass for a modern twist.

Tying the album together is Stefani's charismatic vocal style - part bubblegum pop, part venomous punk girl, part semi-rap.  'Push and Shove' is very much a No Doubt album though, miles away from Stefani's solo work.  In fact, if you blended the band's previous albums and updated them for today's market, 'Push and Shove' would be the exact result.

The album does fall a bit flat in the latter half.  Ballad Undone doesn't quite have the same brand of quirkiness, whereas Stand and Deliver slaps on the weirdness.  Sparkle does shine though for a darker twist on ska, complete with trumpet solo.

There's nothing here that will skyrocket the band to the top of the charts in the same way that Don't Speak did back in 1996 (yes, it was that long ago!).  But 'Push and Shove' is a very solid pop album and a worthy return to form from a band that bring experience and quirky appeal to modern music.

3/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* One More Summer
* Push and Shove
* Sparkle

Listen: 'Push and Shove' is available now.