No Doubt
Tragic Kingdom



by superpeer USER (22 Reviews)
January 17th, 2005 | 47 replies

Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

No doubt is most likely a band that needs no introduction but I'll try to give one anyway. They started out as a Ska band, heavily influenced by The Specials and Madness. But after the departure of Gwen's Brother, Eric (Who later worked as an animator for The Simpsons) they started to include more pop and other influences which brings them to the unfortunate pop band that they are now. However on this album, they haven't been totally polluted and the mixture of pop, rock and ska flows quite well.

Contrary to popular opinion, No Doubt has more to offer than just an attractive songstress. Not that she isn't, but there's more to this group than that. This is No Doubt's third album, and the first on a major label. This album includes the singles that gained No Doubt their fame, namely the mischievous 'Just a Girl' and the ballad 'Don't Speak'.

Gwen Stefani's performance on this album is excellent, although I can see that it's not for everyone. She has the innocent schoolgirl vocals, whilst cautiously being rebellious. At moments she tends to bring too much pop to the surface, but overall the vocals are enjoyable. The lyrics are all written about the same theme; the feelings after a break up. Apparently this album serves as an image for the break up between her and the bassist Kanal. Although I'm not sure whether it was written before or after it.

Speaking of bass, Kanal's bassing is a highlight on the album, it is in fact very audible and quite prominent throughout most songs. He wrote some grooves that really push the album forward. The guitar is in fact more technical than one would expect, as shown in the tapping solo in 'Tragic Kingdom'. Some great riffs and solos are to be found on the album. The Keyboards are hardly noticeable, sometimes they stick their head out of the ground, but overall they don't play a big role on the album. The drumming as well is very low in the production, which gives a poppy feel.

That is in fact the greatest flaw of the album, the overly clean poppy production, which can get irritating nearing the end of the cd. The album starts off great with the trumpets and saxophones bringing the ska, combined with rock energy and pop melody. However one must notice that they can't keep up with this formula the whole cd, which keeps the effort from being magnificent. But this is no bad album by any means. It's a good album for those who can appreciate ska and can endure the poppy melodies, which is certainly not a problem for me. The album doesn't contain a lot of variation, except for the beautiful ballad 'Don't speak'. The use of many instruments including even sitars mostly takes care of this minor problem.

This album is on the Rolling stone 500 best albums list, and perhaps it deserves its spot there, but I fear that it is solely there due to the immense popularity of No Doubt and Gwen Stefani in particular.

Recommended songs:

Spiderwebs: Perhaps the song that has the most ska influence on the album, as it is decorated with many trumpets and saxophones and of course a fantastic catchy melody.

I'm just a girl: The Mischievous main riff on this song can stay in your head for hours and Gwen Stefani sounds like she's complaining like a little girl about the big nasty boys. Great song.

Happy Now?: Great melody and a somewhat melancholic guitar lead.

Don't Speak: Most people know this beautiful ballad, and it is certainly a good one, filled with emotions and great music. There are no bad songs on this album though, so you can't go wrong.

Overall I must conclude that this is a great album, with the main error of being too poppy, but certainly advised for those who enjoy pop rock and/or ska.


PS : This is my first non song by song review, let me know how I did.

#441 on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums Of All Time

Line up for this album :

Gwen Stefani : Vocals
Tom Dumont : Guitar
Tony Kanal : Bass
Adrian Young : Drums and Percussion
Eric Stefani : Piano and Keyboards

Additional Musicians :

Phil Jordan : Trumpet
Gabe McNair : Trombone and additional percussion
Gerard Boisse : Saxophone
Stephen Perkins : Steel drum
Aloke DasGupta : Sitar
Melissa Hasin : Cello
Bill Bergman : Saxophone
Les Lovitt : Trumpet
Greg Smith : Baritone Sax
Nick Lane : Trombone
Matthew Wilder : Additional Keyboards

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What happened to you Gwen?...

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 7th 2005


I'll start by commenting on the review itself, I guess. I think non song by song allows the reviewer to put across a very persuasive argument, moreso than song by song, if only because it can hold the reader's attention more. I think you did a good job at this one, you remained fairly objective, and outlined both pros and cons to the album. You also included a fair bit of information which could convince someone to purchase the album, but it was interesting to read as an owner as well. Great review overall .

Now on to the album itself. I think it would be fair to say that I'm a fan of pop music, certainly more so than I am a ska fan. So the fact that this is a rather "poppy" record doesn't factor in as a negative aspect for me.

I've been trying to fashion an argument (to myself at least) that Tragic Kindgom is one of the better rock/pop albums of the 90s, certainly within the top 15 or so. It was commercially successful, it was innovative (at least to the mainstream), and in my opinion it was a great record. I would personally give it a 4.5/5 though. I believe that any music fans who don't mind pop music should purchase this album. It is the best No Doubt album by far, and is certainly better than the music Gwen Stefani is putting out nowadays.

I think most people out there have at least heard "Just a Girl" or "Don't Speak", and if they've heard any No Doubt songs, it's likely one of the two. In Canada (and I'm sure the US as well), quite a few other songs were popular back in 1996 or so, so I think most listeners already have a fairly suitable introduction to the album. But if you haven't heard it, I suggest you check out those songs.

Anyways, this is a great album, great review as well.

June 25th 2005


This was one of the first albums I ever owned.

Great review, great album.

It sure as hell beats Gwen's solo material This Message Edited On 06.25.05

July 9th 2005


The only No Doubt album worth the money. Tragic Kingdome is an amazing song.

September 10th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Actually, It's their third full-length album (Self-Titled - 45min; Beacon Street - 45min; Tragic Kingdom - 55min). It's also their SECOND major-label release, their self-titled album was also released on Interscope.

In response to your comment, Morrissey, I totally agree that it was one of the best albums of the 90's. No Doubt's music is instantly recognizable, mostly because of Gwen's voice, but it was a brilliantly produced album, the lyrics were intuitive and well thought-out, and it produced 5 hits. Not many albums are like that.

April 30th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

this album was enjoyable. the best son was don't speak and tragic kingdom. No doubt was once a great band... then gwen's ego i suppose made her lose her greatness with her solo crap (yes i have heard it all and it isn't good at all).

May 2nd 2006


this is really a great rock album that will one day be heralded as a classic.

I disagreed with your review quite a bit, but it was written well, so Im not complaining.

May 12th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

i love this album. i must say that spiderwebs is probably my favorite song. good review, btw, the format is awesome, and your bass segue.... that was a little cheesey, but other than that, good job

May 27th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Just a really great album, this is one of those cd's i was raised on

July 2nd 2006


Classic album. Don't Speak is great.

September 11th 2006


these guys/girl have some cool songs. way better then gwens solo stuff.

November 17th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

This album is great... it brings back a lot of memories to me...

November 17th 2006


I can't believe theres a No Doubt review, alright!

November 22nd 2006


............This Message Edited On 11.27.06

November 22nd 2006


that's it. I'm gonna rape your nostrils you piece of dogshit muther fucker!!!

(ahh... Nick Nick Nick when will you learn)

November 27th 2006


what, all I said was a bunch of periods

November 28th 2006


oooooohhh.... that's it. Your done. I know where you live little boy.

January 3rd 2007


What's amazing about the album is that all its songs are different and..great! Some of them you should really listen to, like Tragic Kingdom (which I'm still not sure to understand!)

June 21st 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

I always have had a HUGE crush on Gwen Stefani. I think she is still one of the most beautiful women in the music business.

This album is still on my Mac playing constantly. It never gets old to me. Tragic Kingdom is hands down the best song on this album. Why can't Gwen get back to her No Doubt and stop putting out trash.

July 31st 2007


My guilty pleasure of the 90s.

July 31st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Me too.

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