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No Doubt - Push and Shove (Cover Artwork)

No Doubt

No Doubt: Push and ShovePush and Shove (2012)
Interscope

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Push and Shove is symptomatic with modern pop music today. Despite the tremendous songwriting and performance talent of the band, the modern era, either in the guise of expensive producers, label execs or the butchered attention span of teenagers, has forced the band to cover their strongest assets .
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Push and Shove is symptomatic with modern pop music today. Despite the tremendous songwriting and performance talent of the band, the modern era, either in the guise of expensive producers, label execs or the butchered attention span of teenagers, has forced the band to cover their strongest assets with a mechanical, plastic, blippity bleeping bleach. Still, it does show how powerful No Doubt's music really is, that despite the acid wash of modern production, the band's songs still rise to the top.

The album opens with "Settle Down," a high energy, bombastic dance-pop number, and the album stays in this vein for the entire duration. Thunderous bass pops interminably throb in the background while blippity-bleeps are constantly slid just below layered vocals until the shiny chorus soars over top. While some songs warp into ballad-like numbers, the album never lets up with its computerized, ultra-slick facade, so that even when the album feels like its trying to saying something poignant, body shaking comes first and brain-usin' comes second.

Every No Doubt album has featured significant differences from its predecessor, and here, the change is most dramatic (though the leap isn't as far if one factors in Stefani's solo work). Staff Editor Bryne Yancey snarked on Twitter that "It was really nice of Gwen Stefani to let the No Doubt guys play on her new solo album" and he's right. This is not a No Dobut style rock album. It's a dance-pop album, just like Stefani's last two releases. "Looking Hot" is propelled by an '80s Madonna-ish synth cadence that has break-beats calculated to hit the dance floor at the most opportune time that could sit right next to "B-a-n-a-n-a-s."

In some ways, Push and Shove is the Rocksteady album pushed to the extreme. Where Rocksteady flirted with and referenced modern Jamaican dancehall, Push and Shove is a modern Jamaican Dancehall albumÔ?Žor at least it "sounds" like one. There is no nuance in this release. Random computerized sounds are constantly blasting from either speaker. The album booms and booms and booms some more. And, just when a concept is established, the songs get chopped and remixed to make sure that even those with the shortest attention span don't get bored.

It's sort of bizarre to see No Doubt take such an approach. In this age where pre-teeny boppers and teeny-boppers are chosen for cuteness first and talent second (or fourth or fifth) modern producers don't really need to worry about if songs are actually good. Through modern loops, smoothing and Auto-Tune, the most rote song can be mixed into infinite bombast so that even if its boring, it holds attention. It's a way to cover poor songwriting and fool the ears into thinking that volume and rapid change equals mental stimulation.

But, that's the thing. No Doubt doesn't need black studio magicks. I've heard No Doubt on record. I've seen them live. I've seen them live acoustic. All No Doubt needs to tear down the house is one voice and one guitar. (A drummer, bass player and small horn section helps, too). But, beyond that, anything else dilutes the band. Stefani does not need double or triple tracking. She does not need blippity bleeps to fill in behind her voice. We are here to listen to her and do not need, nor want, distractions (Unless the kids today actually do need distractions, their brains melted by excessive text messages and apps). Likewise, the band knows how to write strong hooks. They do not need computerized snippets to fill in between the riffs. The riffs are strong enough to stand on their own, and how.

One of No Doubt's most powerful skills is to mix the fun with deep, the heartwarming with the heart-wrenching. But, where "Magic's in the Makeup" and "Underneath It All" wrapped chains around the heart with tender words and tender strings, here, in lieu of a gentle touch, Push and Shove offers only WHOMPWHOMPWHOMPWHOMPWHOMP!

But, despite the fancy gloss on top of the record, the songs do show that they are damn good. Although the mixing constantly wants the synth-bass to outshine Gwen's powerful as ever voice, songs like "Push and Shove," "One More Summer" and even "Settle Down" are solid, solid tunes that, if recorded in the proper context, could rival their best work. Compare the acoustic versions of these songs found on some bonus editions of the album, and you'll find that they have the snappiness, the gut punch and heart snare of the best stuff on Return of Saturn. Even a cursory listen to "Sparkle" shows that the band is in top form here. The band still has the goods, they've just been painted with a much too thick sheen.

Then again, perhaps by insisting that No Doubt does what they do best, I am being tyrannical. That is to say, No Doubt is in a better position to define No Doubt than some guy that spent $15 at Target (Deluxe edition, yo). Ignoring the organic, soul-shaking tunes of the band's past, and looking at Push and Shove in isolation yields quite a different picture.

There is little nuance here. There is little soul searching here. But, the tunes do boom. They shake the room. They force you to get down, propelled by some primal cadence from before the time of language. Perhaps the album isn't designed to be "listened to" but to shake the body. If you were at a dance club, or even affi de dancehall, and "Push and Shove" sizzled on between Ce'Cille, it would give the Jamaicans a run for their money. These tunes do kick like a mule. And with the maxed out bass lines, they certainly sound more massive, more energetic and simply better on a big sound system. It seems like No Doubt isn't interested in repeating what they've already done, no matter how masterful they are at it, and that's a noble cause. Making an almost entirely dance record is either risky or timely, and frankly, it mostly works.

As a "No Doubt" album, Push and Shove has the songs strong enough to contend with any of their other hits, but the match is ultimately lost by robot-production. But, as a No Doubt album, the album succeeds. The logical conclusion from the organic-ska of No Doubt and nearing with Rocksteady, Push and Shove finds the band more as a dance group than a band. New No Doubt might not have you reminiscing about your first crush as before, but that;s only because you'll be completely in the physical sphere on the dancefloor, where introspection is one million miles away, even if it's right there dancing two feet in front of you.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
StrangeSlowOld (October 2, 2012)

Here is my review: http://erroraccessdenied.com/files/images/do_not_want.jpg

The lyrics are awful. And I completely disagree with this being up-tempo. I was bored out of my mind. No Doubt is dead to me. RIP NO DOUBT.

superskabro (October 2, 2012)

I'm pretty sure "JohnGentile" is just that Skibz777 loser. Who else would write such a long-winded (and sadly lame) review of the new No Doubt record? I love No Doubt but this review is outlandish.

iamnotarobotadam (October 1, 2012)

I have yet to hear it, so I won't rate it. But I guarantee it's no Tragic Kingdom

Misanthropee (October 1, 2012)

Holy cannoli, proofread much, Jentile? This is fucking BARF.

paulrulzdood (October 1, 2012)

disclaimer: i only listened to the first 6 tracks one time. based on that:
-way overproduced, makes Rocksteady sound like it was recorded by Matt Allison on a budget
-under all that gloss, there are some good moments where they do some cool dancehall and dub stuff and i like when gwen sings jamaican-like
-but then it goes back to sounding way overproduced and club-y like gwen's solo stuff.
-push n shove is a cool song.
-the hepcat album of the same name is much better, and is actually ska. calling this album ska is really pushing it. it has touches of dancehall and dub, that's about it. otherwise it is synth-pop-80's-dance stuff.
-gwen has agreat voice
-reminds me of that new blink182 album from last year. just kind of like "wtf is going on, after a decade of no new material, this clusterfuck of overproduction and disjointed sound is what we get?"

Paul

adamvms (October 1, 2012)

I realize that the word good can be subjective. Reviews are the same I suppose. While I think your review is well thought out I think that the score for this album is about 4 stars too many. I would give this album a half of a star ONLY because it will not allow me to give it less.

justthetip (September 29, 2012)

This represents everything I dislike in music.

seth_uber_alles (September 29, 2012)

I was never anything more than someone who would (somewhat ironically) enjoy a No Doubt single here and there and I was interested to hear this on the strength of the singles. I really enjoy Settle Down and Push & Shove, but upon listening to the album, the singles seem to be the only memorable tracks, which is typical of a pop album. Bummer.

telegraphrocks (September 29, 2012)

I WANT to like this. I was looking for forward to it for years.
Biggest disappointment of the year. Yeah... I had high expectations. And I'm retarded.

johngentile (September 28, 2012)

Renaldo, you stated "while it's produced in the same vein". You literally just re-stated my exact description of why this sounds like dancehall in the review, which was your criticism of my comparison in the first place. Try to read more carefully next time.

Thumbs (September 28, 2012)

Wasn't this being promoted earlier as a fucking ska record???

I like No Doubt, my wife loves No Doubt, but we both agreed 100%... this is pure fucking garbage.
JohnGentile has brain damage.

renaldo69 (September 28, 2012)

john...sorry if you felt i came at you personally but i aint brah...
and i'm a richie spice, sizzla, mavado, red rat, shabba ranks, general grant kinda guy...i dj this shit every other weekend at caribbean parties in the university of the west indies...
and this no doubt shit, while it's produced in the same vein, sounds synthetic and lacks the roughness and grit of true dancehall.
if you think this crap, sticks to dancehall, kudos to you but visit me sometime and let's go my skettle dub/d-hall vibe party.
and fyi...richie spice is conscious music budd...and the artists you described are more dub.
dancehall is shit like vybz kartel and buju

JayTee (September 28, 2012)

Yet another apologetic review riddled with the word "dancehall" of a crappy new electronic pop album by a band that should be playing kickin' bass guitar lines, snappy uptempo drums, and catchy whining choruses.

At this point, it's safe to say Tragic Kingdom was a fluke. No Doubt was a mediocre ska band for a few years before recording with a producer that morphed them overnight into a hook machine. That hook machine dropped their instruments and embraced the world of pure pop nonsense under the guise of "but dude! this is what modern music in Jamaica sounds like... or something!" which obfuscates the point. That this album should've been a return to form.

To which form though? They "evolve" right? Whatever. Somewhere in my head I've been waiting for a Tragic Kingdom follow up since 1996.

Tacos.

johngentile (September 28, 2012)

Hey renaldo, ease up on the personal attacks holmes. Apparently you *don't* know what modern JA dancehall is like. Check out Ce'cille, Richie Spice, Mavado, Busy Signal (who is on this album) and you'll see the production techniques are the same.

puddboy (September 28, 2012)

The nice thing about not liking this band when they were at their peak is I don't have to endure the roller coaster ride of first being excited about a comeback album that would return the band to its glory days, and then being wildly disappointed to find that the album sucks moose cock.

renaldo69 (September 28, 2012)

johngentile...i'm from trinidad...so i know what old and modern dancehall is...and what real reggae is. i like your reviews but you're way out your depth here bud. no doubt to dancehall and reggae is what sober is to amy winehouse

likeaparasite (September 28, 2012)

After listening to it a several times, I've actually been able to find some songs on this that I can enjoy, but there aren't many. I attribute that solely to the fact that I have some tolerance for dance pop, due to my love for a Japanese band that sometimes dabbles in it. Say what you will about "Looking Hot", the lyrics are hilarious. I love how she says "stare on my ragamuffin", with "ragamuffin" clearly being a euphemism for her butt or her, um...frontal bikini area.

This is, however, the first No Doubt album that doesn't have any classic songs. Even their last one, which was packed with horribly lame dance songs had the ska-tinged "Underneath It All". There are times when you can hear the tiniest remnant of No Doubt's ska roots creep into a song (in "Looking Hot", for example), but that doesn't happen nearly often enough.

This band is so dance now that this is the first No Doubt album on which it sounds like their rock roots have been completely severed. I get why punknews has been giving them attention. They started out as a ska band and ska has always influenced and even been an obvious part of their music, but it's never been less prominent than on this album. As far as I'm concerned, they're not a band that should be covered on a site called "punknews" anymore.

I guess the day that a Justin Bieber album review was accepted (seriously, why the hell wasn't that rejected?) was the day it was decided that anything goes and any music can be covered here. I'd like to see a little more respect for the idea that this site is supposed to be about punk rock, though, and cutting this band out would be a good start.

blackandre (September 28, 2012)

I gave the entire thing a chance just because it's No Doubt and somewhere in the back of my mind, I want to like it, I want them to be good again. But as everyone else has said, it's just shockingly bad. It's funny the PN reviewer mentioned Looking Hot...that song is right up there with the best of Paris Hilton's music, just utter vapid and brain-dead retarded.

johngentile (September 28, 2012)

I don't think you guys know what modern dancehall actually sounds like. Go check out a Reggae gold comp.

leecorsoisapenis (September 28, 2012)

Classic Renaldo! Seriously though, he is right. This is a shit sandwich and has nothing to do with dancehall or ska or whatever. The closest link it has to ska is stealing the title of a Hepcat album

Leonardo (September 28, 2012)

I really do think that most of us give No Doubt an easy time simply for nostalgia. This album is as bad as Gwen's solo work and if had been released by the Black Eyed Peas or something (it could have been, really) we would have a much harsher opinion on it. I know I wouldn't have even made it to the last song if it wasn't a No Doubt record.

kickaha (September 28, 2012)

El Mac's artwork is the best thing about this album. And it's some of his least interesting work.

renaldo69 (September 28, 2012)

sorry man..this is NOT anywhere near dancehall or ska or whatever it is purported. this is rihanna with a backup band.
calling this dancehall is like dub actually being part of dubstep...it's non-existent.
2 stars too high bro...tooooo high

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