No Doubt – Rock Steady

In1995, No Doubt was on top of the world. With their third album “TragicKingdom” going multi-platinum thanks to hits such as “Don’t Speak”and “Just A Girl,” it seemed nothing could stop them. The music worldsat on the edges of its seats for five long years for last year’s relativelydisappointing “Return of Saturn.” But before critics could push NoDoubt into the “one-hit-wonder” category, the band released “RockSteady” in December, a mere 18 months after its predecessor.

Already,the first single, “Hey Baby,” has become a staple on radio stationsacross the country, as well as on MTV and VH1. The song, a shout out to all thegroupies who try to seduce Stefani’s bandmates – bassist Tony Kanal, drummerAdrian Young and guitarist Tom Dumont – is typical of the catchy, synth-drivenpop of “Rock Steady.”

The new album marks a departure from NoDoubt’s signature style and creative process, making this a mix of classic newwave sounds, hard-driving hip-hop beats and slinky Jamaican dance-hall. The mainreason for this, I believe, is because of the many collaborations the bandindulged in, including Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics, Prince, U2 mixman NelleeHooper and the Cars’ Ric Ocasek.

At the first spin of “RockSteady,” one might be taken aback a bit, recognizing that this new sound isclearly steering away from the sound you might be used to from them. But a fewmore listens will bring back the memories.

The style may have changed, butthe lyrics are still pure No Doubt. Any fan of their music will know that Ms.Stefani just can’t keep herself away from the “relationship” genre insongwriting, giving each album its own distinct theme, if you will. “RockSteady” is no exception. In fact, I think “Trouble in Paradise”would have been a better title. But, to be honest, the album’s theme was the lastthing on my mind while listening to it.

What was on my mind was most ofthe songs – I couldn’t get them out of my head. The chorus to the title trackappears twice, as the intro, and of course, as the last track. It’s a catchylittle chorus that will have you humming. “Detective” also possessesthis quality, with the chorus thrust at you right at the beginning, foreshadowingthe song’s catchiness.

I think one of the greatest aspects of this albumis its diversity. With other albums, it’s strictly ska or rock. “RockSteady” is neither. You hear straight-forward pop (“Making Out”),?s new wave (“Don’t Let Me Down”), a little rock (“PlatinumBlonde Life”), dance-hall reggae (“Start the Fire”), and justplain old good music. This is definitely No Doubt’s greatest effort. “RockSteady” proves that there is no doubt (no pun intended) that No Doubt willbe around for a long time.

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