"Ex-Girlfriend" seems to almost be a sequel to "Happy Now?" The song seems at first classic No Doubt--an upbeat tempo supporting angry lyrics. However, there are obvious differences, and a lot of maturity, in this song. This is, perhaps, why this was released as the first single. The semi-rapped song is, of course, about a rocky period that Gwen and Gavin experienced in their relationship. "Ex-Girlfriend" contains small traces of the 80s in its keyboard and guitar sounds, but beautifully combines them with those of today. The song serves as a wonderful precursor to the rest of the album.
SIMPLE KIND OF LIFE
The second single on Return of Saturn, really epitomizes the entire record. "Simple Kind of Life," is more aptly titled "Gavin's Big Hint #1."--one of many on this album. This song expresses Gwen's desire to settle down and have a "simple life." More specifically, to become a mother. This is a beautiful ballad, reminiscent of "Don't Speak," only slightly more optimistic, but still containing the wistfulness and regret that made "Don't Speak" such a huge hit.
This immediately reminded me of something that should have been on The Beacon Street Collection. It seems very old-skool (lyrics expressing longing over uptempo music), and is probably the most ska-influenced track on the album. The song is very upbeat, with low horns in the background that are more obvious at the end. Personally, I love the catchy chorus, and the meaning of the song--making "Bathwater" one of my favourites.
SIX FEET UNDER
This is definitely one of my favourite songs. Existentialism is something that we have never heard No Doubt explore before in this much depth, or at least this obviously. Again, the music is quick, and covered with melancholy words, reflecting more of No Doubt's Beacon Street past. The astrology behind Saturn's return is definitely visible in these questioning lyrics. The chorus is very catchy, and it is ironic that it would be so much fun to sing: "Today is my birthday / And I get one every year / And some day... / Hard to believe / but I'll be buried six feet underground / I'll be dead and gone, no longer around." The song also contains many evidences of the band's 80s influences, particularly in the keyboard sounds.
MAGIC'S IN THE MAKEUP
Again, a song that defines the "Saturn" theme. This is a beautiful song. I've deemed it an "80s ballad." I particularly like Gwen's voice and Tom's guitar solo (very 80s electronica) in this one. In "Magic's In The Makeup," Gwen questions (another reoccurring theme throughout) herself as a person, asking: "My makeup's all off / Who am I?" The song speaks for itself, it is not difficult to translate, and sends a great message.
"Artificial Sweetener" was competing with another song for my absolute favourite, and although it did not win, it still comes an extremely close second. Gwen, again, is reaccessing herself, and the title of the album even comes from this song. I absolutely love the chorus: "I'm full of artificial sweetener / My heart's been deceitful / It's all artificial sweetener / I'm faking I love you's / You're forcing me to." This song has an incredible amount of emotion in it, and it is wonderful to sing. Gwen's voice is beautiful in it, and I love the way she alters the pitch during the verses. It is an absolutely gorgeous song; I hope they play it live. The lyrics are wonderful and intelligent.
Known to me as "Gavin's Big Hint #2." In the MTV review of this album, it said: "Somebody get this girl a ring and a room." Sorry Gwen, you brought it upon yourself. This reggae-tinged song has a beautiful horn section. The music is really great. You really have to respect Gwen for writing such candid lyrics, she's pouring her heart out. I do like this song; however, this is one of the few that does not relate to a wide audience. On the contrary, anyone can relate to that sense of longing. It really is a pretty song.
We first heard this song on the Go soundtrack. I think that this song has the most 80s influence: a lot of the Cure, and maybe some of the Cars, in there. This is an optimistic song, and I love the lyrics, as well as the music. The song is nearly a ballad, only you can dance to it. This was the first new song that we had heard from No Doubt in 2 years, and I believe that everyone was happy to hear that No Doubt's metamorphosis was for the better.
Again, a ballad--but of course, different from the rest. The song contains beautiful words laid over a 40s-ish big band sound. However, the lyrics are far from the 40s. The thing that sticks out the most in this song is the chorus: "It's too late now / I don't think it can fade / It's too real now / Fulfillment just adds fuel to the blaze." This song can apply to many situations, and the lyrics are yours to interpret; of course, we can only guess what Gwen meant by them...
This is it, my absolute favourite song on the album. There was a ton of emotion packed into "Artificial Sweetener," (and really throughout the whole album), but in "Comforting Lie," the emotion is so great, it's almost difficult to sing. This song is just amazing. Perhaps I like it more because I saw it performed live (where the audience claps during the chorus). The chorus is all energy: "Hold it, hold it all in / Let it build up / Build a bomb / Blow it, blow it away / Clear it all out / Just end it." And then, the alteration of the chorus at the end is sung as if a bomb were exploding: "Sort it, sort it out / Just give it back / No thank you / Toss it, toss it away / Eliminate / Just give up." The song is really amazing.
SUSPENSION WITHOUT SUSPENSE
This is one of the low-key songs on the album. "Suspension Without Suspense" is about as far from old-skool NxD as it gets. It has a very 80s electronica opening which haunts the background throughout the song. The music is very meticulous, very well planned out. And really, the only way I can describe this, is just that it is a song; simply a song. But the meaning behind is it beautiful, and the lyrics, though nothing like their old music, remind me of the old music. This really is a pretty song.
"Staring Problem" seems like it came off of the first album, No Doubt, though much more mature sounding. Basically, it's an uptempo song, which, when I first heard it, the intro sounded similar to that of "Sixteen" (yeah, remember that song?). The chorus (S-T-A-R-I-N-G / I can't stop staring.) is really catchy, and I can see the mosh pit becoming even more wild.
This song has a strange 80s-ish intro, and the music seems dark. I almost feel like it is aimed towards Gavin, but maybe not. I love the music in this, though, and the chorus seems to be an allusion to wedding vows: "And to make it real / I need to have you here/ I need to have you / I need to hold you." "Home Now" is open for interpretation. Gwen's voice sounds really good in this one. In the middle of the song, there is a little bit of a ska beat going on, which reminds me a lot of some of the songs on Tragic Kingdom.
This is very 80s, I hear some of The Cure. Why this song reminds me of "Tragic Kingdom," I have no idea...maybe because it is the last song on the album (almost :). Now that I think about it, "Tragic Kingdom" was quite different from the other songs on that album...almost ahead of its time. The song is haunting, ethereal even. Is is really beautiful though...the lyrics are wonderful, but I think that it is the music that makes this one.
TOO LATE (Instrumental)
Yes, it is a hidden song. It is located on track 14, at about 5:36. It is really a pretty composition, and sounds absolutely nothing like No Doubt. It sounds almost like a classical piece. It is a nice ending to the album, though. It gives the listener a chance to think about the rest of the music.