While No Doubt was called “ska punk”, they were always something more than that. Something different, something else. Being a ska punk band by only following the conventions with a trumpet, a backbeat and a punk sound isn’t very punk, and neither is playing in a fast pace without giving out any authentic energy. No Doubt wasn’t cliché like this, like a lot of other bands in the genre, no, they made what they felt like, what was fitting for the situation, and they weren’t afraid to go outside of their box.
In a way they were more metal than punk with all their intensity, progressivity and technical skills. The early No Doubt demos were heavy, groovy and intense without using any instruments known for being heavy and “hard”. Listen to “Rampage” and try finding a song more intensely funky than this. I dare you.
A lot of their coolest songs are obscure and only exist on cassettes and random old accounts on Youtube:
“Soundquake” is fast and unpredictable. “Aladdin” is heavy and silly, which could be a contradiction but is not. “Everything’s Gone Wrong” is haunting. Title track “No Doubt” has an evil intro. “Show off” is grey and gets even more so by the bad quality. The demo of “Ache” is nice and cool. “Dear John” is heavy and sad. “Where’s your lovin'” is melodic and weird.
Bonus: read this incredibly deep-diving article about Gwen. I remembered a well-written analysis of her public persona and the public’s perception of her, and I thought this was it, but I’m not entirely sure. So there may exist one more over-analyzing piece of madness out there.