Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

No Doubt 

Return of Saturn (Interscope)

Gwen Stefani is just a girl. She makes that very clear on Return of Saturn, No Doubt's follow-up to its last album, 1995's Tragic Kingdom. Whether musing about settling down in the "Simple Kind of Life" ("And all I needed was a simple man, so I could be a simple wife"), dealing with fame in "Magic's in the Makeup" ("Can you tell I'm faking it? But I want to be myself"), or contemplating marriage in "Marry Me" ("I wouldn't mind if my name changed to Mrs."), Stefani makes it very clear that, despite the multiplatinum success of Tragic Kingdom and the weight of the world resting on her ability to sell this long-awaited third album, she is indeed just a down-home gal looking forward to a life of two kids, a happy husband, and a house in the suburbs.

And if you believe that, there's no convincing you that the generic ska pop of Return of Saturn is pretty bland stuff, and that this album, which should have taken advantage of No Doubt's sudden fame a year or so after Tragic Kingdom's release, is a stiff retread of its already-dull formula. Stefani kicks up obsession ("Bathwater") and neuroses ("Ex-Girlfriend") as well as one would expect a pop-minded '90s girl to address such things in the modern world, but she's so one-dimensional and simple about it that you begin to wonder how she became a teenage grrrl icon in the first place.

It doesn't help that the band churns out tired SoCal ska that went out when most of these kids took their horns and migrated to the even more weary neo-swing movement. For every peppy "Ex-Girlfriend" or "New," there are four cuts that plug into the mechanics of Ska 101 to more monotonous effect. Worse are Stefani's gushy ballads, most of which sound like "Don't Speak" rewrites. She's a girl really hooked on this marriage thing, or as she awkwardly puts it in the obvious "Marry Me," "A girl in the world barking up the wrong tree/A creature conditioned to employ matrimony." Imagine an album of such sentiments (as well as a few standard fame-sucks platitudes), irony-free, and you pretty much have the hollow rings that are orbiting around her planet.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays
  • Andrea Bocelli @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

    • Thu., Dec. 2
  • Kellen Erskine @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Dec. 2

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation