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.