No Doubt play unashamedly catchy, poppy music. But what makes the Californian band fronted by Gwen Stefani unique is their pre-occupation with ska and synth-driven new wave, which means they tend to come up with something a little more interesting than your usual sugary sing-along pop track.

And on the band's first album in more than a decade they prove they've still got it. The title track is steeped in ska and includes guest appearances from Jamaican dancehall star Busy Signal and producer Major Lazer (aka Diplo), but the big slow-motion shift it takes during the chorus (pulling up just short of being dubstep), makes it the most inspired track here.

Then there's opener Settle Down, which initially has the clanging, Caribbean feel of Nicki Minaj's Pound the Alarm, before the trippy dub outro, which transports the song out over the magical six-minute mark, making for pure pop whimsy.

They took their time recording this album (their sixth), which comes after a long hiatus, during which time Stefani had two children with Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale and released two solo albums. And though there's nothing quite as catchy and classic as Just a Girl, they still do a fine turn in uplifting melodic pop rock with a difference. And if you don't mind the odd pleading Stefani ballad, then it's on a par with 1995's Tragic Kingdom and 2000's Return of Saturn.


And for the most part it is up and energetic, though Easy recalls the forlorn, teary-eyed moments of their 1996 global smash Don't Speak and the country-sounding Undone stalls things before the album skanks and rumbles back into life with the beautiful and brassy Sparkle.

One More Summer has a feel-good 80s steeliness to it, and Looking Hot is a banging, catchy oonst-driven Guetta-style anthem which, midway through morphs into an inspired reggae-ska-raggamuffin interlude, before taking off back to the dance floor. And yes, Gwen, in answer to your question, you do still look hot.

Stars: 4/5

Verdict: Welcome return of pop in a raggamuffin ska-style

- TimeOut