Volume 4, Issue 4 University of Houston
No Doubt resurrects the '80s on 'Rock Steady'
By Christian Schmidt
No Doubt's new album Rock Steady is a departure from the band's previous work. The follow-up to 2000's Return of Saturn features a sound much more closely derived from pop music than earlier No Doubt efforts. No Doubt has been together for 15 years and the album is the band's third since achieving national prominence in 1995 with the release of Tragic Kingdom.
The band just finished a nationwide tour in which it opened for U2.
The album's first single, "Hey Baby," has received considerable radio play in the last few weeks, and should achieve at least some success on the charts. The song picks up on a familiar No Doubt theme -- lead singer Gwen Stefani's life surrounded by men.
The first track on the record -- other than a brief intro -- is " Hella Good," which makes considerable use of a synthesizer to create a dance song with a heavy beat and simple, rather unimaginative lyrics.
Several songs on the album have a definite 1980s pop feel, reminiscent of Madonna's work 15 years ago.
"Making Out" positively reeks of '80s sounds, with spoken passages from Stefani and liberal use of a synthesizer.
Gwen Stefani and company draw on ska melodies and '80s pop sensibilities with No Doubt's newest release, Rock Steady.
The songs that aren't overly poppy seem to draw on the group's ska roots more deeply than their past work. The album was recorded in Jamaica, and this seems to be reflected in much of the work.
"Underneath It All" fits into this category. The song begins with a reggae beat, and background from a trombone and saxophones continue the Jamaican feel. A Jamaican style rap from Lady Saw appears in the middle of the song.
"Running" is a classic No Doubt style ballad, with Stefani's yearning vocals, simple lyrics and a slow tempo.
"Platinum Blonde Life" is a great song with good lyrics, a driving tempo and solid performances from the bass and drums. Stefani proclaims "I want a platinum blonde life so I keep bleaching out the color."
"Waiting Room" is primarily interesting because of the guest artist. The Artist formerly known as Prince sings backup vocals and produced the song.
The album closes with the title track. "Our love is rock steady," Stefani
mourns as she talks about the difficulties that are inherent to relationships
and the problems she fears will come soon. Stefani wrote or co-wrote every
song on the album.
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