Review Summary: What happened to you Gwen?
When No Doubt announced they were going to release their first album this year since Rock Steady
back in 2001, I had a glimpse of hope. Could the band possibly be returning to their energetic alternative rock sound that worked so well for them in the 90’s? Unfortunately, I found the harsh answer to my question in the form of their latest effort Push and Shove
. The album was all the proof I needed that No Doubt will never be the band they used to be and I should just accept it. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t still guiltlessly enjoy their upbeat and nostalgic first few albums. Say what you will about the new No Doubt, but Tragic Kingdom
remains one of the best alternative rock albums of the 90’s. It sounds just as great today as it did nearly 20 years ago.
Chances are, if you grew up in the 90’s you’ve probably heard some No Doubt tunes. Songs like ‘Spiderwebs’ and ‘Don’t Speak’ were radio station favorites; one showing off their upbeat alternative/ska attitude and the other displaying the amazing singing voice of Gwen Stefani. If you ask me, ‘Spiderwebs’ could very well be the best song of the band’s entire career. The whole song is full of energy and it’s overflowing with trumpets, but it also contains the catchiest hooks on the album.
I’m sorry I’m not home right now, I’m walking into spiderwebs, so leave a message and I’ll call you back!!
Although there is some filler to be found throughout the fourteen tracks, it doesn’t keep Tragic Kingdom
from being one of the most memorable albums of the 90’s. Songs like ‘Just a Girl’ or ‘Sixteen’ proved to be just as catchy as their first two singles. One of the main reasons these songs were so enjoyable was undoubtedly, Gwen Stefani herself. She’s always had a unique voice and it adds a great deal of character to all the songs. One might even say her singing has a jazz like feel to it. Whatever you call it, it’s a captivating sound that helped make Tragic Kingdom
such a fantastic album.
While most alternative rock of the 90’s relied heavily on guitars, No Doubt stood out with their blaring trumpets and saxophones. They still had their upbeat guitars, but the additional instruments really made them stand out at the time. In fact, No Doubt actually inspired many ska bands. This is likely due to the success of Tragic Kingdom
as well as their first two albums also taking on an upbeat ska sound. It really doesn’t surprise me that other band’s found inspiration in their sound. Before evolving into the radio friendly pop band they are today they were an original and even groundbreaking band.
For those who wish to enjoy No Doubt’s latest release, all the power to them, but when I look back on their breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom
and compare it to their newest pile of rubbish, all I can think is…what happened to you Gwen?