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No Doubt, ‘Push and Shove’ – Album Review

No Doubt Push and Shove
Interscope

I can’t believe it / Has it really been this long?,” vocalist Gwen Stefani asks on ‘One More Summer,’ a standout track from No Doubt‘s latest record, ‘Push and Shove.’

It’s been 11 years, to be precise, since the foursome comprised of Stefani, bassist Tony Kanal, guitarist Tom Dumont and drummer Adrian Young released a new studio effort. The band took its time recording ‘Push and Shove,’ a decision that ultimately proved wise.

Blending all of the band’s influences, including pop, rock, ska, punk, reggae, dancehall and hip-hop, ‘Push and Shove’ arrived at retailers this week. It’s full of tracks that may not have smash hit potential in an era where most Top 40 pop songs are club bangers, but they honor No Doubt’s history and should please longtime fans.

Here’s our track-by-track breakdown of the 11 songs on the new album.

1. ‘Settle Down’
The album’s lead single was a refreshing burst of that classic No Doubt energy, with Stefani’s confident voice, a reggae-tinged beat and positive vibes, although it didn’t quite have a strong enough hook to light up the charts. [Listen Here]

2. ‘Looking Hot’
‘Looking Hot’ is a synth-heavy tune that incorporates ’80s new wave elements into a dance-pop arrangement. It has more of a dance vibe than we’re used to hearing from the group, which might be why we like it. “Do you think I’m looking hot?,” Stefani asks, even though she already knows the answer. [Listen Here]

3. ‘One More Summer’
Perhaps the most straightforward pop song on the album, ‘One More Summer’ impresses with synths and guitars that open into a sunny chorus in which Stefani sings, “One more summer / One more weekend / I’m your lover / You’re my weakness.

4. ‘Push And Shove’ Feat. Busy Signal and Major Lazer
A clear standout on the album, the title track finds a groove with clattering production from Diplo and a cameo from dancehall artist Busy Signal. Stefani rhymes “yoga” with “Soca” and “livin’ la vida loca” in rapid-fire verses that lead up to a slow, dramatic chorus. This song is all over the map, but its mash-up of styles works perfectly. [Listen Here]

5. ‘Easy’
‘Easy’ shows promise when it opens with looping, computer-altered vocals, but the ballad never really goes anywhere. “I’m gonna take it easy / No not gonna do a thing / Gonna take it easy,” Stefani sings. That’s an apt description for the song itself.

6. ‘Gravity’
Stefani sings to husband Gavin Rossdale on ‘Gravity,’ a mid-tempo tune that tells the story of their perseverance through the many ups and downs of a long-term partnership. She sings, “We’re so lucky we’re still holding on / Just like Venus in the morning sun / You and me got gravity.” The melody isn’t noteworthy, but the message is.

7. ‘Undercover’
On ‘Undercover,’ Stefani has to play the role of private investigator as she attempts to figure out what deep, dark secrets her crush is hiding. He’s too perfect, so something must be wrong. Right? Dumont and Young shine on the low-key pop song.

8. ‘Undone’
Listeners are in for a pleasant surprise with the largely-acoustic ballad ‘Undone,’ the final song written for the record. Stefani sings about a woman who is an emotional wreck after she took her lover for granted and he decided to break things off.

9. ‘Sparkle’
We can’t forget the good times, even though they’re long gone. That’s where No Doubt find themselves on ‘Sparkle,’ a fun song with hints of reggae and a horn solo. “I know it’s never gonna be the way it was,” Stefani begins. “How can it? Feelings change and people can get lost / But I still think of you so much / Do you remember how it was?

10. ‘Heaven’
The pace picks up again with the hand-clapping ‘Heaven,’ a perky song with a satisfying hook. It’s an engaging love letter to a partner who is everything a woman could ask for. Gwen sounds so happy!

11. ‘Dreaming the Same Dream’
More ’80s-style synths and a pulsing beat make the closing track ‘Dreaming the Same Dream’ one of the album’s strongest. “How many times can a promise be broken? / Who taught you how to love? / Are we on the same side? / We know how to play this game / You fall and then I catch you,” Stefani sings during the five-and-a-half minute track that ends with a rising wall of drums and guitars. This song alone justifies the long wait for No Doubt’s comeback album.

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