No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom LP
Led by the infectious, pseudo-new wave single "Just a Girl," No Doubt's major-label debut, Tragic Kingdom, straddles the line between '90s punk, third-wave ska, and pop sensibility. The record was produced by Matthew Wilder, the auteur behind "Break My Stride" -- a clever mainstream co-opting of new wave quirkiness, and, as such, an ideal pairing. Wilder kept his production lean and accessible, accentuating No Doubt's appealing mix of new wave melodicism, post-grunge rock, and West Coast sunshine. Even though the band isn't always able to fuse its edgy energy with pop melodies, the combination worked far better than anyone could have hoped. When everything does click, the record is pure fun, even if some of the album makes you wish they could sustain that energy throughout the record. Tragic Kingdom might not have made much of an impact upon its initial release in late 1995, but throughout 1996 "Just a Girl" and "Spiderwebs" positively ruled the airwaves, both alternative and mainstream, and in 1997 No Doubt cemented their cross-generational appeal with the ballad hit "Don't Speak."