No Doubt (Trauma/Interscope)
Album of the week
When not busy pioneering unlikely fashion accessories—the braces she wore during her New Year's Eve MTV performance made tin grins cool—No Doubt's Gwen Stefani
has been looking inward. For this follow-up to 1995's Tragic Kingdom, an 11-million seller, Stefani wrote or cowrote (with guitarist Tom Dumont, bassist Tony Kanal and brother and ex-band-mate Eric) all 14 songs. Many, including "Simple Kind of Life" ("And all I needed was a simple man/ So I could be a wife") and "Six Feet Under" ("I'll be dead and gone, no longer around"), seem to have been prompted by her turning 30 last October. Even the album title alludes to the time (29 years) it takes Saturn to circle the sun. But Stefani introspects to a backbeat, and Return brims with No Doubt's peppy new-wave sound. She even finds humor in heartache, as in "Ex-Girlfriend": "And you know it makes me sick to be on that list, but I should have thought of that before we kissed."
Bottom Line: Punk girl power