“Our memories, well, they can be inviting…”
No Doubt’s 1995 record Tragic Kingdom is a fun, pop-punky, self-loathing indictment of teenage culture that really encapsulates the thought process of a young Gwen Stefani. Her lyrics speak of rebelling against social norms, and range from sarcasm (I’m just a girl) to deadpan (I’m a person or you’re only 16).
The sound is delightfully 90s; and despite my preteen impression, No Doubt was much more than Green Day with a chick singer. This band was tight, full of interesting riffs, great bass lines and tight rhythm — all of which served to emphasize Gwen Stefani’s unique, powerful vocals. Listening to this album in 2015, I can’t help but think she even *sounds* like a pinup.
There are hits on this album. If you were a kid during the age of custom answering machine recordings, you most definitely remember Spiderwebs. Just A Girl was ubiquitous on the radio as a breakthrough hit for the band, and Sunday Morning had its moments thanks to an earworm bass line.
But the highlight of the album — and many a middle schooler’s broke heart — is one the finest ballads of the post-grunge world: Don’t Speak. To me, this song is what a broken heart should sound like. It’s melancholy, regretful, angry, and melodic all at the same time.
Suited For: Your 6th grade dance.
Appropriate Playback Device: Aiwa Stereo