This week, No Doubt release their sixth studio album, Push and Shove. Their lead singer Gwen Stefani may have soldiered on into a new millennium with her solo material but her band seem content to revisit the sights and sounds of the 1990s – the decade when they made their name. In an interview with The Guardian, Stefani insists that her solo records were “never meant to be taken seriously” and the band seem to be re-treading old ground with their new material, even with forward-thinking producer Diplo at the helm in the studio.
In the video for the first new single from No Doubt, ‘Settle Down,’ Stefani wears a black vest with a visible bra, bold shiny trousers and a giant watch: “To original fans it will prompt nostalgia, to new ones…it will probably look like a very on-trend 90s fashion revival.” Gwen insists that it “feels so much more natural being back in this mode” and she has fixed the broken relationship that she had with songwriting partner Tony Kanal (whom she used to date).
That return to the band’s trademark sound will please hardened fans of the band but may prove to be a sticking point for those who have fallen by the wayside. Andy Gill of The Independent states that the band have “only the most tentative divergences from previously tried and tested strategies, which gives Push and Shove a character that could be described as either dated or timeless.” A return to form, though is a good thing for Entertainment Weekly, who write “Gwen Stefani pogos as hard as she ever did in her Anaheim-strip-mall ska days. But she's also just as neurotic, which adds depth to her love songs.”
Canvey Island in the Thames estuary is known as Oil City for the refinery that dominates the horizon. It's also a scruffy beach community and home to the members of Dr Feelgood. Lee, Wilko, Figure (Martin) and Sparko (Sparkes) started playing music out of camaraderie and boredom, then realised it might be a way off the island when their distinctive style caught on in 1973. Without trying to build a slick image as a band, they made it onto the cover of NME before they even had a recording contract.
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