For a thirteen-year old Southern California quartet that developed its core fan following through the presence of ska, new wave and rock in its songs, this album marks a steering of the band's boat towards more mainstream music. The group has admittedly grown up - this fact is seen in its lyrics, which are all self written (with a little help from Glen Ballard, album producer and songwriter of twelve of the total fifteen songs) and which touch upon mature themes like love as seen in "Bathwater" and "New", marriage as seen in "Marry Me", death as sung about in "Six Feet Under", children as talked about in "Simple Kind Of Life" and the real self as perceived by the members in "Magic's In The Makeup".
The words are honest, direct and meaningful. The music style is quirky, cute and upbeat. Gwen Stefani's singing is breathy, purring and lilting and Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont and Adrian Young have done a satisfactory job on the bass, guitars and drums and percussion respectively.
All the tracks are worth a listen, but "Bathwater", "Suspension Without Suspense", "Dark Blue" and "Big Distraction" are the most aurally attractive of the lot. "Ex-Girlfriend" retained the number three position as of 11th March 2000, on the Modern Rock Tracks charts.
The album's title has an astrological significance. The planet Saturn takes twenty-nine years to orbit the sun. This is also the quantity of time, in human life, that is believed to be required for a complete "coming into being". Till twenty-nine, therefore, people are busy developing and moulding themselves through a process of trial and error after which they are reputedly more self-aware and conscious of their individuality.
The band's vocalist and lyricist Stefani turned thirty this year. This explains the self-searching and romantic moods that're smeared all over the album. She clearly has come into being.
After the release of "Tragic Kingdom" five years ago that sold fifteen million copies worldwide, this album, which is the group's toe-hold in the notoriously inconstant world of pop, is worth a try. Who knows? You might like it.This article was first published on 26 Jun 2000.