No Doubt – Everything In Time Review

No Doubt – Everything In Time
Interscope, 2004

1. Big Distraction
2. Leftovers
3. Under Construction
4. Beauty Contest
5. Full Circle
6. Cellophane Boy
7. Everything in Time (Los Angeles)
8. You’re So Foxy
9. Panic
10. New Friend
11. Everything in Time (London)
12. Sailin’ On
13. Oi To the World
14. I Throw My Toys Around (ft. Elvis Costello)
15. New and Approved (New remix)
16. A Real Love Survives (Rock Steady remix ft. Ms. Dynamite)
17. A Rock Steady Vibe (Rock Steady remix ft. Sweetie Irie)

In late 2003, No Doubt released the two-CD, two-DVD collection Boom Box; at the same time, one of the discs alone was marketed as The Singles 1992-2003 to ensure they didn’t completely overestimate their audience and try to force a giant package upon a casual listener.

In late 2004, No Doubt releases the second disc of that set as Everything In Time, comprised of b-sides, rarities, live versions, and remixes.

Now — this might sound completely insane — approximately one month after Everything In Time is scheduled to hit the shelves, vocalist Gwen Stefani’s debut, Love, Angel, Music, Baby will be released.

…and the scent of record industry marketing fills the air…

Completely disregarding the obvious behind the release of Everything In Time, the question is whether the album stands on its own as a viable release from No Doubt. Having been around for more than a decade and changing their sound more times than the average person changes underwear, it would seem difficult to compile a release that would not categorically sound like a schizophrenic mess only related in form by the vocals of Ms. Stefani.

The wide array of tracks do span from the nearly pure ska and new wave heart that elevated No Doubt to the big-star arena all the way through their techno-beat pop that Rock Steady blew up on the airwaves. Yet, these are combined and mixed in a way that shows the progression of the band more than accents the drastic changes from one album to the next. Kicking off with “Big Distraction” and “Leftovers,” it’s a giant green light in the back of the minds of listeners who miss the band’s Tragic Kingdom output; yes, No Doubt was once categorically a ska band. This trend continues through the first few songs and gently blends into the more generic-pop type songs. Quite honestly, the track progression is nothing short of brilliant as bubblier tunes like “You’re So Foxy” and “New Friend” somehow don’t seem as drastic of a change when surrounded by gradually poppier songs.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that every B-side, rarity, or other unreleased item should have ever seen the light of day. Bad Brains cover “Sailin’ On” is enough to put even the hardiest of No Doubt fans into a coma with some of the world’s most boring pseudo-ska, and the utterly terrible remixes from Rock Steady only showcase how that album was little more than generic pop. Two live versions of “Everything In Time” might very well not have been necessary, either.

The greatest highlights of the disc are the almost disgustingly catchy “You’re So Foxy” (which is startlingly better than some of their official album material) and the insanely fun Vandals cover “Oi To the World.” Also impressive is “I Throw My Toys Around” with Elvis Costello, although it may be easy to point fingers as to why that particular song would be of higher quality than some of the rest of the material present on the album.

In essence, Everything In Time is really no different than any other disc released by a major band with the sole purpose of compiling their lesser efforts; it’s widely varied due to the time span and easily hit-and-miss throughout. After all, if the songs weren’t good enough to make it to an album before, what suddenly makes them viable now? One can’t even go so far as to recommend this as an “essential” for the band’s die-hard fanbase because it’s already been released in a package that the die-hards would have picked up last year. It’s possible that there was an intent to fool the casual fan by releasing a disc that one might believe to be “new,” although that seems rather far-fetched in the scheme of things. The likely reason for this album’s release seems merely to supplement the buzz around Gwen Stefani’s upcoming debut. Even if the existence of this disc is universally panned, it’s still press, right?