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CD review | ROCK

No Doubt, ‘Push and Shove’

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Consider: The 11 years it’s taken for No Doubt to put out a new album is longer than it took the Southern California group to release everything in its catalog up to and including 2001’s “Rock Steady” in the first place. It had an entire career — from indie identity-honing to massive mainstream success to lackluster follow-up to triumphant comeback — in less time than “Push and Shove” gestated, so it’s probably little surprise that the album finds No Doubt forgetting how to be a band. It’s not a matter of everybody fighting for their own ideas at the group’s expense; just the opposite, in fact, as it sounds like every last detail was worked out through numbing compromise. The band has rarely sounded this faceless, with the indiscriminate, locked-in sheen of a producer-driven act instead of the fused idiosyncrasies of a supposedly inspired foursome. No Doubt’s touchstones remain unchanged, from the deep, bass-forward echo of dub, the electronic flourishes of dancehall, and the pop forwardness of New Wave (still an ideal match for Gwen Stefani’s kewpie-doll voice). But the flashes of light on “Settle Down” and “Sparkle” can’t overcome the sense on “Push and Shove” that maybe nobody was more unprepared for No Doubt to still be around in 2012 than No Doubt. (Out now)

ESSENTIAL “Sparkle”

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