No Doubt still rocking same sound

No Doubt’s finally back on the scene after 11 years of silence and some weird Gwen Stefani solo albums. You could say they “pushed and shoved” their way back, if you’re into plays on words.

The album, “Push and Shove,” dropped on Sept. 25 and sounds like the band picked up right where it left off after 2001’s “Rock Steady.”

Rumors had been milling around for the last few years about when this album would come out, and now that it’s here, it’s safe to say it was worth the wait — much better than the joke of an album Guns n’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy” was after a 15-year hiatus.

The band members, all now in their 40s, have stayed true to their original ska-pop sound and have accepted a few current musical norms, too, throwing in a splash of synth-pop here and a drop of dubstep there.

The album’s first single, “Settle Down,” was released in July and acted as a massively poppy tease to the rest of the album. “Get get get get in line and settle down,” singer Gwen Stefani rap-sings, like a quasi-message to the crazy fans who had been impatiently waiting for years for this release.

That’s how most of the album goes: it has that typical No Doubt flavor of ska mixed with pop and synth-pop mixed with smooth vocals. Its dance songs are interspersed perfectly with slow jams.

It’s also chock-full of potential singles and songs it’s nearly impossible not to dance — or, at the very least, head bop — along with.

The adorably mushy love song, “Gravity,” has Stefani musing, “We’re so lucky / Still holding on / Just like Venus in the morning sun / And you and me got gravity.” That’s either grounds for a sappy tear or a “gag me,” but with Stefani’s golden vocals, it’s a lean toward the former.

They aren’t all about the lovey-dovey songs on this album, though. Sticking true to their wacky sense of lyrical genius, some ridiculous words make their way into the title track (“La, la, la, la vida loca, / We speeding it up like SoCa) and in “Easy” (I’m gonna hit and run / A yummy yum yum). Fans can only shake their heads and chuckle when they come across these oh-so profound lyrics.

But that’s what makes this band so great — No Doubt mixes different styles and, using their magic, makes them work. They have fun and create music that’s fun to listen to. This album is no exception.

As an answer to Stefani’s question in “Looking Hot,” yes, you do look hot, and yes, this hits the spot. Big time.

“Push and Shove” is a refreshing change in popular music that’s dominated by Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

One thing’s for sure: Stefani’s voice has been missing on the music scene.

This review was originally published in the Oct. 12, 2012, issue of The Verge, the weekly arts and entertainment section of The Daily Eastern News.

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