Expectations Soar for No Doubt’s First Album in 11 Years

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Singer Gwen Stefani of No Doubt performs onstage.

Eleven years after releasing their last album, No Doubt’s return finally has a date: September 25, 2012.

The Orange County-bred quartet announced the release date of their sixth studio album in a video message over the weekend. The highly anticipated album has been in the works for the last few years, and a solid release date comes as a relief for many fans.

The genre-defying group also dropped their first webisode yesterday afternoon, part of a series documenting the recording process behind this still-untitled album. In the clip, we get a sneak peek into the recording of “Push & Shove,” featuring Jamaican artist Busy Signal and produced by Major Lazer.

The video shows the group having fun, Gwen Stefani spitting like fire into the microphone over dirty dance beats—the reunion feels worth the wait. And wait we did; three years after having announced the album, it’s not surprising fans and critics have grown more than a little impatient.

“A lot of stuff happened during that time period,” Stefani told Rolling Stone last June, defending criticism of their pace. “Marriages, babies and, for me, two records and two clothing lines. So if you really worked out the math, you’d be like, ‘Wow, you guys are going fast.’

Rolling Stone chronicled band’s recent movements earlier this year under the headline “No Doubt Somehow Still Recording Long Awaited Comeback Album.” Spin put together a slideshow of collected photos from the band members’ Twitter accounts, painting a picture of what the group has been up to “instead of recording.”

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Indeed, they’ve done a lot. The band started songwriting work for the new album in March 2008, following the wrap of Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape tour—though things were moving slowly, in part due to Stefani’s second pregnancy.

In the summer of 2009, they reunited for a greatest hits tour, hitting 50 cities across the U.S. and Canada, joined by acts like Paramore and Katy Perry. They performed on Gossip Girl later that year, and in 2010, they entered producer Mike “Spike” Stent’s studio (whom they worked with on Rock Steady in 2002) to start recording. That December, they performed before President Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors. News that they were recording with Major Lazer surfaced in 2011, and photos began to come in through the group members’ Twitter accounts documenting the process.

Last week guitarist Tom Dumont tweeted that they are finally mixing the album, in the process of shooting two videos, and plan to release its first single in July.

So, what can we expect to hear? A return to their ska-rock roots? Punked-out electronic dance music? More of the dancehall influences we last heard on Rock Steady?

Given the group’s collaboration with Major Lazer—comprised of Diplo and Switch—more dancehall influences appear to be on the horizon. In an interview with The Vine last year, Diplo described the sound as being reggae “from the future.” After hearing several tracks last summer, Rolling Stone revealed that “Settle Down” is a “party-ready reggae blast,” while “One More Summer” is a club-ready update of their ska-punk sound. Taking key elements of the genres they’ve experimented with over the years (both individually and as a group) and infusing it with timely, forward-thinking electronic and live percussive experimentation seems like the route the band is headed, but future webisodes may offer more clues as we get closer to the drop of the first single.

It’s good timing for No Doubt; music featuring live instrumentation and rock influences have been slowly gaining dominance on the charts, from Gotye to Adele to Fun.’s anthemic “We Are Young.” No Doubt may take their time with things—they also had a five year gap between 1995’s Tragic Kingdom and Return of Saturn—but they’re returning to a base that’s primed and ready for their comeback.

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