You’ve seen them at parties, lurking in the corner, waiting to engage in battle disguised as conversation. They’re indie rock know-it-alls, and no matter what band or musician you mention, they’ve got an opinion — strong and almost certainly negative — ready to ram down your throat. With Instant Expert, we offer preparation for these very situations. Each Thursday, in advance of your weekend carousing, we pick an artist and provide a quickie career overview, highlighting both prevailing critical opinions and the inevitable contrarian counterarguments. Even if you’re completely unfamiliar with the music, you’ll be able to bluff your way through and defend your indie cred. This week: No Doubt.

  • The Gist

    No Doubt formed in Orange County, Calif., in the mid-'80s, inspired mostly by the horn-fueled 2 Tone ska music that came out of England in the late '70s. Nobody paid much attention to their first couple of records, but by the mid '90s, the mainstream had warmed up to alternative music, and the band's third album, 'Tragic Kingdom,' became a massive hit, reaching No. 1 and selling more than 16 million copies worldwide. The band expanded their sound and put out two more LPs before singer Gwen Stefani released the first of two solo albums in 2004. After an 11-year break, No Doubt returned in 2012 with their sixth record, 'Push and Shove,' which debuted at No. 3

    Scott Gries, Getty Images
  • Critical Consensus

    No Doubt finally broke out of the ska ghetto on their fifth album, 'Rock Steady,' jumping from dancehall reggae and synth-pop to hip-hop and club beats. It's their most well-rounded album and their most consistent. Plus, it includes their two best songs: 'Hella Good' and 'Hey Baby.'

  • Contrarian Counterargument

    The band's 1995 breakthrough LP 'Tragic Kingdom' is stuffed with the music they excel at: ska ('Spiderwebs'), pop ('Just a Girl') and ballads ('Don't Speak'). They weren't trying to be anything more than what they were -- California kids with a serious jones for 2 Tone.

  • Counter-counterargument

    Gwen Stefani doesn't need the rest of No Doubt. She is No Doubt. And her best solo album is her first one, 'Love. Angel. Music. Baby.' Plus, 'Hollaback Girl' is better than anything she's ever made with the band.

  • Whatever You Do, Don’t Say This

    This s--t is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!