March 4, 2004
No Doubt : Bathwater/It's My Life
Throwing out the babyishness, keeping the 'Bathwater'...
Burdened with the knowledge that their days as
enormo-trousered stadium-stuffers poised to smite the
funk out of the mainstream with their ska-pop daftery
are now little more than a vaguely embarrassing memory,
No Doubt have found themselves in the career
quandary that is the Serious Rethink. The means? A
self-scribbled, electrofied remix of a four year-old
album track. The result? Unmitigated Pop Magnificence
that not only raises the ageing funkateers from the
crypt of ignominy but sends them rocketing skywards on
fluorescent plumes of Genius. Crikey.
While Gwen Stefani's adenoidal admissions of
helplessness may do little for the feminists' cause
("why do we choose the boys that are nasty?" she
bleats, epiglottis wobbling like a weak-willed
vibraphone), such innocent rhetoric effortlessly fulfils the first commandment of Great Pop. Which is? Thou Shalt Present Fluffy Platitudes as Universal Truths, an instruction that sees 'Bathwater' paddle towards immortality on a raft of broken-hearted virtue. Elsewhere, there's a colossus of a chorus and a gratuitous reference to a toothbrush which, brilliantly, means absolutely nothing whatsoever. Oh, and there's a fond reprise of the once ubiquitous 'mysterious synth bit', included to allow older members of
the electro-pop sorority to imagine themselves swishing
through the alleyways of some lovelorn European city
(Vienna, perhaps; or possibly Leeds) in a Gitane-stained pac-a-mac.
Not that the Doubters can be accused of greedy
nostalgia, mind. For though 'Bathwater' sups with
unapologetic vigour from the New Romantics'
cup, there's enough authenticity in a single twang of their squelch-funk bass to send ironists and stiff-backed opportunists scuttling back to their bunkers. With nary a puff of pretension, Stefani and co's take on this 80's
electro-malarkey has been baked to perfection. Who'd
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