CD Review of Some Citiest by Doves
Doves: Kingdom of Rust
Recommended if you like
Radiohead, Coldplay, Pink Floyd
Label
Capitol
Doves: Some Cities

Reviewed by David Medsker

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S
ome Cities, the Doves’ third and newest album, brings to mind a really good Doves tribute band, if one yet exists. The songs are so raw, so un-Doves-like, that they would make more sense coming from a well-meaning bar band who adores the Manchester trio but doesn’t have the ability to duplicate their epic soundscapes, yet succeeds at capturing their spirit. It’s a rough shift in dynamic, and one that most fans of the former Sub Sub would not expect. But the key is that the spirit is intact; the songs may not be as lush, but the sense of grandeur is alive and well.

Not that you would know that from the opening/title track, though. Not only does it lack any of the Doves’ trademark characteristics, it sounds as if lead singer and bassist Jimi Goodwin stepped aside and let Gene’s Martin “Roz” Rossiter take a whack at it, signature vibrato in full swing. “Black and White Town” definitely rings the bell, though, following in the soul-influenced roots of “Pounding” from their great 2003 album The Last Broadcast.

The left-right-left punch of “Snowden,” “The Storm” and “Walk In Fire” is where the album truly takes off. “Snowden” may be the most lo-fi thing the Doves have ever done, but it’s no less dreamy, with a monster Theremin-type hook. “The Storm” is one of their prettiest yet darkest ballads yet. Having the string section skip like the sampled sound it is makes it more human somehow. The harmonica solo at the break is utterly heartbreaking.

And then there’s “Walk in Fire.” This album’s equivalent to Last Broadcast’s superb “There Goes the Fear,” “Fire” starts with a simple jangle guitar line, anchored by a big drum beat, but then there are sirens, magnificent harmonies, and the kind of chorus that builds cities. Majestic, powerful stuff.

That is by no means the artistic end of the album, though. “One of These Days” is as catchy as minor key songs come, propelled by an insistent snare drum beat. Shhhh! The chords actually borrow quite liberally from “Hotel California,” yet the songs have nearly nothing in common. A fine bit of theft if ever there was one.

The UK rock scene is suffering from a lack of identity. The Britpop/90s bands are all folding like cheap card tables (Blur, Oasis, Radiohead, the jury is still out on Supergrass), while their successors have not officially wrestled control away from their elders (Coldplay, Muse, Keane, the jury is still out on Travis). What the scene needs is some stability to carry them through the transition of power. The Doves may be one of the more understated bands of the UK pop scene (and what a relief that is to not have to suffer one more Gallagher-esque blowhard), but they’re just the band for the job, as Some Cities’ debut at the top of the UK album charts suggests. They may never have an OK Computer moment, but blowing out fuses in fits of unprecedented brilliance can be overrated. Exceptional as well as consistent, now that is something truly special. Long live the Doves.

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