Review this album
Sep 25, 2012While No Doubt have never been lyrical geniuses, their past efforts were worlds better than the throw away mindlessness exhibited on this album. When it comes to ridiculous lyrics songs like Looking Hot (Do you think I'm looking hot, do you think this hits the spot, I was just looking at me, look at me) and Easy (I'm gonna hit and run yummy yummy yum) quickly steal the crown from Hollaback Girl. At least in the case of Hollaback Girl the lyrics were a clear compliment to the cheerleader anthem of the accompanying music. No such creativity on display here. Certainly profound lyrics aren't a requirement for good music, but the ones found here are just dull and uninspired. I'm also mildly baffled by the professional critics claiming to find "more mature themes" in her lyrics this time around.
Musically, the album is a confused mess as well. We have a batch of pop songs that are nearly outdated in their style as they are being released. Many of these songs are just well-produced 80's synth-pop numbers with the occasional break for one where the band remembers that they were once a guitar driven pop band with ska influences so they throw in a guitar riff and a couple notes on a trumpet as a tribute to their former selves. I'm not going to insist that they return to the style of Tragic Kingdom with this album, but the I think they themselves need to agree on where exactly they want their music to go. Even as a pop album, the tracks on here pale in comparison to all but the worst of her solo work. The entire first half of the album is a meandering mess of conflicting ideas and interruptions. Songs that start off with a guitar driven opening quickly drift off into unsatisfying and barely related synthpop and songs that start off as club-friendly dance tunes are rudely interrupted by failed attempts to bring in other influences.
I wish the best to Stefani and the her reunited band, but as painful as it is to admit it, she was probably better off playing the role of pop superstar on her own. The band just held her back from her current musical vision with Rock Steady and at least from an outsider's perspective, they just might be doing it again here.… Expand