Interscope – 2001 – 49 minutes

Having collaborated in such standout style with rapper Eve on summer hit 'Let Me Blow Ya Mind', hopes were high that the fifth album by Gwen Stefani's No Doubt would shake up the charts in all the right ways. Some hope.

With producers galore (Nellee Hooper, William Orbit, Sly & Robbie, Ric Ocasek), 'Rock Steady' is rarely anything but flaky and the sound of a band panning for singles. To their credit they find three of them in the electro pop of 'Hey Baby', the discoish 'Making Out' and standout cut and party anthem 'Hella Good'. But the rest of the time they jump from style to style, not sounding like they mean any of them. It might be impossible to second guess what they'll try next but halfway through you've given up even trying.

Not even the presence and production of 'Prince' on 'Waiting Room' can liven up proceedings, with the song coming across as one of his most disappointing cast-offs and sounding like the music to a second rate video game. Stefani is blessed with a voice that can do anything but the arrangements behind it are poor and anyone who buys this album is in for a close to rock bottom disappointment.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Intro - Hella Good - Hey Baby - Making Out - Underneath it All - Detective - Don't Let Me Down - Start the Fire - Running - In My Head - Platinum Blonde Life - Waiting Room - Rock Steady