Before rocketing to stardom with 1995's Tragic Kingdom, No Doubt had already been through enough drama to fuel a season of Behind The Music. Founding member John Spence committed suicide, keyboard player Eric Stefani left the group just before its commercial breakthrough, and singer Gwen Stefani and bassist Tony Kanal ended their romantic relationship. After hitting big with the girl-power sass of "Just A Girl," Stefani channeled her romantic ennui into "Don't Speak," a breakup-themed power ballad that solidified No Doubt's chances of outliving the ska revival that ushered in its initial success. Since then, the group's singles–as represented on the new compilation The Singles 1992-2003–have oscillated between the poles represented by "Just A Girl" and "Don't Speak." On uptempo numbers, Stefani doles out toxic amounts of highly stylized, theatrical attitude, while the more contemplative tracks allow her insecurities to run rampant. As its long run of hits attests, No Doubt has never hurt for big hooks and catchy choruses. The problem is that many of its singles, particularly those from Tragic Kingdom, are as annoying as they are catchy. Stefani's vamping can be a bit much even in small doses, which is why she's generally at her best when she's most vulnerable. For example, "Simple Kind Of Life" sounds almost uncomfortably intimate when Stefani confides, "I'd always thought I'd be a mom / Sometimes I wish for a mistake." With its regressive yearning for an idealized husband, baby, and nuclear family, the song is hardly a giant leap forward for gender politics, but its unflattering, almost desperate candor remains poignant. No Doubt's best single, "Underneath It All," finds Stefani in a rare state of romantic contentment as she purrs seductively over languid production highlighted by backward strings. Anyone who's listened to Top 40 radio will be likely be familiar with nearly every track here, but Singles' insistent, often irritating tunefulness suggests that with or without No Doubt, Stefani will be a fixture on the pop charts for years to come.

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