It’s been more than a decade since No Doubt released their last studio album, but Gwen Stefani and crew are not here to “settle down.” With catchy new dance tunes on their latest effort, critics don’t seem to mind their return, either.
Push and Shove hits shelves Tuesday, featuring 11 new tracks that will be sure to remind listeners of the ’80s and ’90s ska scene.
Read below for a sampling of the reviews from the top critics:
Billboard’s Andrew Hampp says of the new record, “Largely unconcerned with modern radio trends — save for a semi-dubstep chorus on the Major Lazer-assisted title track — Push and Shove is a celebration of No Doubt’s love for all things ’80s pop and the Southern California ska scene. Though the reception has been mixed for dancehall-inflected lead single ‘Settle Down,’ there are singles to spare on Push and Shove, many of which rival and occasionally harken back to their biggest hits.”
Randy Lewis from Los Angeles Times poses the question: “Is it possible, though, for a band that’s been around this long to exert a significant influence in a world now dominated by the frothy youth pop of Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and American Idol — none of which existed when No Doubt got started?”
Lewis responds: “In that regard, No Doubt is virtually unique,” and adds, “The guest talent helps bolster the album’s broad stylistic range — from driving electronic dance music (‘Looking Hot’) and dreamy synth-pop (‘One More Summer’) to romantically yearning dancehall reggae (‘Sparkle’) and melancholy dance pop (‘Undercover’) echoing No Doubt’s earliest efforts.”
Cristina Jaleru of Huffington Post says, “From the first listen one can tell it was worth the wait. Push and Shove returns to the group’s type of ska mixed with dancehall, electro pop and a pinch of magic, expertly dished out by producer Spike Stent. The resulting 11-track album doesn’t sound a day over 1995’s Tragic Kingdom, but that doesn’t make it dated. It’s that rare breed of record that carries the musicians’ touch wherever on the timeline.”
Rolling Stone’s Jody Rosen comments, “The songs are catchy, but Gwen Stefani doesn’t have the voice, or the gravitas, for grandiose tunes. And do we really want a ‘mature’ No Doubt record, anyway? The band sounds more at home on the title track, a ska/dub fusion where Stefani rhymes ‘La-la-la-la vida loca/We speeding it up like soca.’ That’s the No Doubt we love: hopped-up ambassadors from a fairy-tale SoCal where la vida is, eternally, loca.”
Jim Farber from New York Daily News notes, “While Push and Shove may be N.D.’s first work since all its prime members entered their 40s, it retains the buff tunes, ripped rhythms and dewy arrangements of songs they cut back in their 20s. Notably, Gwen Stefani and crew achieved this vampiric feat not through any production potion or studio scalpel, but through their own ingenuity as songwriters and musicians.”
Stephen Sears from Idolator gives the album a rating of 5 out of 5, gushing that, “Lyrically, the album is stacked with funny, baked phrases like ‘I’m on a hit and run, a yummy yummy yum’ on ‘Easy’ or the title track’s rap: ‘We be on another level like we’re doing yoga!’ But Gwen’s gained wisdom with age, delivering wry doses of reality like ‘You’re… making me weak and that’s a comment, not a compliment’ from ‘Dreaming The Same Dream.'”
Hit Fix‘s Melinda Newman notes, “Underneath it all, Stefani is a throwback to girl group singers of yore — even if her vulnerability often comes with an armor veneer — and No Doubt is a pure pop band. A three-song arc midway through the album focuses solely on those aspects,” and remarks that, “On the poppy ‘Gravity,’ a love song presumably to husband Gavin Rossdale, Stefani ruminates on how lucky they are that their relationship has gravity that tethers the two of them together. ‘We’re in orbit/so we’re safe. Don’t let go/don’t ever let me float away,’ she sings as laser effects torpedo through the song. It’s totally possible to imagine Belinda Carlisle singing this song 25 years ago, especially given the lighthearted, synth bridge.”
Allison Stewart of the Washington Post concludes,”Stefani’s lyrics are still the diary scribblings of a world-weary fifth-year senior, with minimal references to adult things like fame or kids. But growing up isn’t all bad: There are a lot of adorable songs about being married to Gavin Rossdale (like ‘Underneath it All’ heir ‘Gravity’), but if you were married to Gavin Rossdale, you would mention it a lot, too.”