'Just A Girl' is a hugely enthusiastic, upbeat, guitar-fuelled pop stomper that just...
Ruth Mitchell 2003
Christmas is nearly here! You can tell because record shop shelves all over the land are suddenly flooded with an abundance of Best Of Compilations and Singles Collections. No Doubt's The Singles 1992-2003 is unlikely to stand out from the crowd. Leading lady Gwen Stefani, with her white-blonde tresses and full red lips has always had more impact than the songs she sings.
Things get cracking with Gwen and Co.'s breakthrough single "Just A Girl" and its a hugely enthusiastic, upbeat, guitar-fuelled pop stomper that just builds and builds until it almost bursts. It's one of the most competent tracks of the whole album and a fine example of how ludicrously contagious these guys can be. They have the admirable ability to get you singing along even after one listen. Very clever!
Fitting neatly into this category is No Doub's party piece "Hey Baby", with its catchy dancehall groove and addictive chiming chorus. Recorded in Jamaica, it sports co-production credits from reggae percussion legends Sly and Robbie and MC antics from Kingston bad boy Bounty Killer. Later on there'sa nod to more traditionalist reggae, with "Underneath It All", which includes cool chatting from Lady Saw as well as a damn catchy hook. Great stuff.
The tepid "Hella Good", produced by hip-hop heavyweights The Neptunes, is No Doubt on a dance tip, yet their familiar growling guitar licks still shine through to good effect. Unfortunately there is little else that makes much of a mark. Lukewarm offerings such as The Pretenders inspired "New" and a cover version of Talk Talk's80s hit "It's My Life" are weak and unexciting.
Running at almost 70 minutes this collection is too long and gets tiresome about half way through. A more stripped down and condensed package would have prevented the likes of smash hit "Don't Speak", the foursome's most glorious pop moment, from being buried and almost forgotten. What a shame!