THE LATE LATE REVIEW: NO DOUBT – TRAGIC KINGDOM

We recently celebrate 15 years of Gwen Stefani’s debut solo album on Track By Track, but before that there was No Doubt and their breakthrough album, Tragic Kingdom.

Release Date: October 1995

Achievements: Topping the album chart in no less than 11 countries, it also achieved a Diamond rating in the USA and Canada, 5x Platinum in New Zealand, 4x Platinum in Australia, 2x Platinum in Sweden and Platinum in a further 8 countries, it’s fair to say this album was a popular one.

Rating: Averaging about 4 stars, this is another well received album amongst most critics.

Tragic Kingdom, named after a nickname given to Disneyland in California by a high school teacher of one of the band, was No Doubt‘s third studio offering. This album marked a change for the band as it was Gwen Stefani‘s first outing as the main songwriter. Prior to this album her brother Eric Stefani wrote most of the music, so it will come as no surprise that people enjoyed the much more personal take.

Using elements of ska, punk and new-wave pop, this album has a Blondie vibe to it (which is heightened by the fact that a bleached-blonde Stefani, flanked by an all-male band also has echoes of Blondie about it). It’s also packed with hints of reggae and flamenco, amongst others, but don’t let that make you think that it’s a discordant album.

The lyrics come, in part, as a result of the turbulent period around the recording of the album for the band. Stefani and the band’s bassist, Tony Kanal, ended their relationship, Eric Stefani left the band and there was some tension about the new sound.

The album has got a great feel about it, and the lyrics really do feel very personal coming from Stefani, all the more heightened by her unique voice. You’ve got the well known treats like Just a Girl and Don’t Speak, which are an obvious draw, but also Spiderwebs, Happy Now and the eponymous Tragic Kingdom which are total belters too.

It’s easy to write No Doubt off if you weren’t a fan of Stefani’s solo work, but I really can’t stress enough that this is a world away from such classics as Hollaback Girl and The Sweet Escape. As I’ve mentioned, it does have the benefit of Stefani’s voice, which is enough to make this a unique offering instead of a Blondie cover-band.

This album is well worth a listen. It’s a great record, with an upbeat feel (sometimes despite the lyrics) and deserves far more kudos than I feel it has. Go ahead, treat yourself.

Is there an iconic film or album you think I should have experienced by now? Let me know @MoveToTRASHUK #latelatereview

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *