"Settle Down" (6:01)
Producer: Spike Stent
Writers: G. Stefani, Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont
Publishers: by World of the Dolphin Music (ASCAP)
It took No Doubt a solid decade to finish their comeback album, "Push and Shove," and that prolonged effort immediately shows on the disc's first single, "Settle Down." The aggro-pop quartet crams as many hooks as possible into its long-awaited new song, which finds Gwen Stefani adjusting to unfamiliar circumstances but declaring that she'll be fine; after all, she is "a rough and tough." Sonically, the band balances reggae flourishes with Tony Kanal's kinetic bass movements, creating a forceful continuation of their "Rock Steady" singles. The difference between "Settle Down" and No Doubt hits like "Hey Baby" and "Hella Good" is how hard the group has to work on their new cut: melodies are snipped while others are shoehorned into place, and Stefani's lyrical conversation with herself sounds more exhaustively constructed than effortless. "It's kind of complicated, that's for sure," the pop star confides before the chorus hits; it's a line that undoubtedly describes No Doubt's road to "Push and Shove," as well as the makeup of its first single.