Album: Rock Steady

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Album:

Rock Steady

Artist: No Doubt
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Label: Interscope Records

As much as No Doubt have protested that they are a singular unit and not “Gwen and her guys,” Gwen Stefani’s much-touted duets with rapper Eve and techno mogul Moby did nothing to juice the boys’ spotlight, which had been steadily dimming since the release of 2000’s Return of Saturn. But all that banter is silenced with Rock Steady, on which the music is definitely the star, unfettered by Gwen’s cutesy-clouded feminism or dumped-by-the-boyfriend woes. Having mostly departed from their ska home base, No Doubt’s well-navigated exploration of hip-hop…

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As much as No Doubt have protested that they are a singular unit and not “Gwen and her guys,” Gwen Stefani’s much-touted duets with rapper Eve and techno mogul Moby did nothing to juice the boys’ spotlight, which had been steadily dimming since the release of 2000’s Return of Saturn. But all that banter is silenced with Rock Steady, on which the music is definitely the star, unfettered by Gwen’s cutesy-clouded feminism or dumped-by-the-boyfriend woes. Having mostly departed from their ska home base, No Doubt’s well-navigated exploration of hip-hop beats, reggae, and the reunion of ‘80s keyboards and guitars finds the group picking up the pop-rock baton that Garbage dropped with an unsettling thud. Rock Steady’s delegate of stalwart producers perfectly decorate the disc with their respective expertise; Ric Ocasek (new wave), Prince (R&B), Nellee Hooper (trip-hop), Sly & Robbie (dub), and William Orbit (trance) offer some staying power to music that’s always been on the edge of disposable. Despite their disparate styles, the songs complement each other like stars and stripes. This is No Doubt’s best album to date, and as they continue to expand their influences, the party only gets bigger. —Beth Massa

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