I’ve owned this album for a while, but I’m not entirely sure why I bought it. I’ve never been a huge No Doubt fan, but I do like some of their songs. I remember buying this at Circuit City (throwback!) mostly because I loved the songs “Hey Baby” and “Hella Good.” Now, after listening to this album again after such a long time, I see that’s it’s actually pretty good. There are some great songs here that are great for just kicking back and having a good time.
The album opens with “Intro.” For some reason this was always one of my favorite tracks even though it’s about 30 seconds long. It’s a pretty simple song that has Stefani repeating “a real love survives/a rock steady vibe.” The flow of this lyric and the beeps and boops that go along with it make this a super catchy song. The next track is the infectious “Hella Good.” I don’t know if it’s just me, but the opening beat reminds me of “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. Anyway, the music is awesome here. The sneaky bass line and guitar riff make the music sound dangerous and suspicious. It also makes the music sound a little dark and intense. There’s also a lot of electronic noises strewn throughout the song, which adds a danceable groove. The music is what drives the song and makes it so good.
“Hey Baby” is a catchy song that has more funky electronic music, which shows up through the whole album. The chorus is one of those hooks that you shout out and sing as soon as it comes on. It may even be the only part of the song you know. The song also has a slight reggae tone, especially when the rap comes on. It’s another great song that makes you shake it like bacon. “Making Out” is obviously inspired by the 70’s and 80’s, which sounds really weird at first. For the most part, the song sounds like a product of the 80s with more electronic music taking over, but when it gets to the chorus it turns into a disco love fest. You can actually picture a disco ball and Saturday Night Fever as soon as I comes on. It sounds a little weird at first, but it grows on you after a while.
All of the songs here are pretty good. There are some standout ones, like the ones mentioned above, and there are others that are tolerable. Point is none of the songs suck. Some of them just sound really strange. “Running” is an interesting track about trying to make a troubled relationship work. What makes the song weird is the music. It sounds like 8-bit video game music, but mostly it reminds me of the music from Rugrats. It’s very basic with a lot of beeping, but it’s decent. One song that’s kind of cheesy is “Don’t Let Me Down.” It has this super cheesy 80’s synth music that sounds like it comes from the bad music of the that decade and the lyrics are pretty corny too. But it’s one of those songs that you hate, but also manage to love too.
One of my favorite songs on this album is “In My Head.” Again, the electronic music takes over this track, but the way it creeps along really adds an edge. The short guitar riff that plays throughout sounds like a clock ticking, which is perfect for the song. It seems like Stefani is in a therapist office spewing off her issues of jealously and suspicion. She sounds even more unstable by the end of the song when she sings “Let’s talk about the future, let’s talk about the wedding…” It’s actually about her distrust of her husband Gavin Rossdale, so it’s a pretty interesting song.
I don’t know much about No Doubt’s past material, but one thing I do know is that they are known for their ska-punk sound. While this sound isn’t absent from this album, it takes a back seat, while the band plays around with other music styles. Everything from r&b to electronica is found here. The track “The Waiting Room” has an r&b sound mostly due to the fact that Prince shares vocal duties on the song. It’s also a bit soft than the other song. “Platinum Blonde Life” on the other hand, has a rock sound with guitars dominating the music. It actually reminds me of Joan Jett, but minus the hardcore attitude. Songs like “Underneath it All” and “Start the Fire” still have the band’s classic ska/reggae sound, but they throw in some electronic music to shake things up. Some of the songs with different styles sound strange at first, but for the most part they manage to pull it off.
Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. I really can’t compare this to any of their other albums, but it’s a pretty solid record on its own. The songs for the most part are catchy and interesting. Older fans may be disappointed with how the band experiments with other musical genres, but it actually works pretty well for them. At times, songs can sound like they come out of left field and may even feel out of place on the album. Either way, it’s still a decent record and one I don’t regret buying all those years ago.