CD Review of Kingdom of Rust by Doves
Doves: Kingdom of Rust
Recommended if you like
Radiohead, Coldplay, Pink Floyd
Label
Astralwerks
Doves: Kingdom of Rust

Reviewed by Michael Fortes

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T
hough Manchester, England’s Doves come from a cold place musically – the trio’s previous incarnation, Sub Sub, was an electronica outfit – the reality of what they create now couldn’t be further down the spectrum. The vocals of bassist/guitarist Jimi Goodwin are as warm as they come, feeling as comfy as a cherished old blanket, and the all-natural drumming radiates a strong human pulse. Even when the band sprinkles their guitar-based tunes with hints of their electro past, the vibe is completely organic.

It’s not necessarily dramatic enough to call it a "return to form," since Doves are about as consistently pleasing a band as one is likely to find these days, but the fact that they have come back around to more of the lush soundscapes and, yes, occasional nods to their past, certainly works to the benefit of Kingdom of Rust, the band’s fourth studio album. If anything, Kingdom splits the difference between the stripped-back rock of 2005’s Some Cities and the grand, pristine epics of 2000’s classic mopey debut, Lost Souls, and 2002’s more positive and equally brilliant follow-up, The Last Broadcast.

Doves

Leading with "Jetstream," a fine hybrid between Doves’ dance roots and rock present, with new wave-y-keyboard flourishes and dark, nighttime-moody chords as a backdrop for drummer Andy Williams’ delivery of the song’s visual lyrics covering land and sea, Kingdom immediately threatens to erase the memory of Some Cities. And with the title track coming off like an outtake from The Last Broadcast, this one-two opening punch nearly accomplishes just that.

And while radical departures are not this band’s stock in trade, they come close enough to such a departure with "Compulsion." This MGMT-worthy slice of dance-funk, set with blues verses sung by Williams and a more typical Doves chorus sung by Goodwin, stands out as the album’s most surprising track. And, since they don’t pretend to be a funk band but still nail the beat, it works beautifully. This is the only major change, however – "House of Mirrors" is cut from the same cloth as Some Cities, "The Outsiders" returns Doves to borrowing from past giants (in this case, it’s the opening synth mirroring Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon proto-techno interlude "On the Run"), and the album’s closer, "Lifelines," is the spawn of both of those previous two albums. It’s also the band’s most confident album-closer, as Goodwin declares "somebody’s giving in, but I’m not."

And thank goodness they’re not giving in. While so much of the world is gaga over Coldplay and U2, Doves continue to churn out songs that aspire for greatness without descending into demagoguery. This could be exactly why Doves are not filling arenas in the U.S., but for those who prefer a dash of modesty with their epic grandeur, and those who truly believe that these two qualities are not mutually exclusive, Doves are our saving grace.

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