CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom
Released: 10 October 1995
When people ask me what my favourite album of all time is I reply with No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom without any hesitance. “But why” always follows and it’s quite simple, the album production was done incredibly well and each song compliments the other perfectly. Looking back at No Doubts’ career it’s hard to pinpoint a peak with a dozen of chart topping singles and sold out arena tours spanning over two decades. Forming in 1986 Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young and Eric Stefani were clueless that they were about to become one of the world’s most influential ska/rock bands. I’m going to be honest when I say that No Doubt are my favourite band, always have been and always will be. Their style has evolved over time and continues to adapt to current trends and the lifestyle of the band members.
“Tragic Kingdom” propelled No Doubt to fame with the number one hit single “Don’t Speak” that 19 years later has respectively remained a classic song. Opening strong with the ska/rock anthem “Spiderwebs” you are automatically set with high expectations and 14 songs later you’re not left disappointed. “Excuse Me Mr” brings the angst and fiery vocals of Gwen Stefani that early fans of the band grew to know and love. The iconic rock ballad “Don’t Speak” showed listeners a softer side of the vocalist and was the platform that launched Stefani’s pop careers 10 years later. “Just A Girl” successfully juggles the pop and rock elements that No Doubt perfected individually and combined to become one of the bands most played radio singles. “Happy Now?” and “Different People” brought back the ska/rock sound that they created on their earlier releases and are still fan favourites to this day. Experimenting with psychedelic rock on “Hey You” was probably not the best decision the band have made and is my least favourite song on the record. “The Climb’ takes a theatrical turn for “Tragic Kingdom” with Stefani’s vocals experimenting with different techniques while the songs dynamic grows and drastically changes throughout the length. “Sixteen” became No Doubt’s teen anthem and is lyrically still relateable to teenagers in 2014.
Growing up I always remembered seeing the video clip for “Sunday Morning” played on the music channels and it quickly became one of my favourite No Doubt songs and still is. The infectious chorus, fast pace and cheeky nature of the song always appealed to me. No Doubt tried it ALL even the disco influenced “You Can Do It” which saw the band including the at the time popular style to their original sound and in turn a unique song was born. “World Go Round” and “Tragic Kingdom” were seen as the album fillers but have still stood the test of time. “End It On This” was another album favourite of mine as I was always fascinated by how the band used different paces and beats so successfully.
You know if 19 years later people can still relate to the music, lyrics and genuinely want to still play an album then it’s a classic and Tragic Kingdom is just that. The production wasn’t forced, over produced or materialistic. It was raw and honest to the bands unique sound and personality and didn’t see them trying to be anyone but themselves. The problem with No Doubt’s recent album “Push And Shove” is that it’s too generic, over produced and saw them lose the personality they once stamped with their music. They need to return to their roots and create honest music that experiment with sounds that can’t necessarily be produced by a computer.
FUN FACT: “Tragic Kingdom” was the last album to feature original band member Eric Stefani who went on to work as an animator on The Simpsons