Artist: No Doubt
Title: “Push and Shove”
In retrospect, No Doubt’s last album before a lengthy hiatus, 2001′s “Rock Steady,” was a launching pad for Gwen Stefani’s solo career, ditching her third-wave ska beginnings for dance pop and synthpop on 2004′s “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” and 2006′s “The Sweet Escape.”
Almost all traces of the No Doubt that was a vital part of the mainstream takeover of third-wave ska have vanished on “Push and Shove,” the band’s sixth studio platter and first in 11 years.
Reggae artist Busy Signal visits on the title track as a nod to “Rock Steady’s” ragga influence. The song, one of “Push and Shove’s” best, gets No Doubt keeping up with the joneses by sticking a toe in the dub waters without losing its identity – a license they have thanks to “Rock Steady” and Stefani’s efforts in the past decade.
Still, nothing here feels as urgent or necessary the way “Tragic Kingdom” did. The middle of the record peters out as milquetoast ballads about long-term relationships and swallows the momentum built up by the first few tracks, although the ska-lite “Sparkle” brightens up the back-half.
As comebacks go, “Push and Shove” isn’t worthless, but it’s hardly essential.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.