Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

No Doubt: Tragic Kingdom [Trauma/Interscope, 1995]
Like any pop skyrocket, Gwen Stefani is video-driven, and so hebephrenic you know she unprotests too much. The production's as bizzy as the Ivy at lunchtime, too. But this act's real problem is ska. Since the dawn of two-tone there hasn't been a single band in the style--excluding the punk Rancid but including Madness and the Specials--that was as songful as its fun-besotted partisans claimed. When that hippity-hop beat is hyped up for postpunk consumption, its energy somehow precludes tune. Not that she could sing in the same shower as classic Cyndi Lauper anyway. But classic Belinda Carlisle is another story. C+