Thursday, April 30, 2009

Doves album review

Kingdom of Rust

In a previous incarnation as ‘90s dance outfit Sub Sub, Manchester, England ’s Doves enjoyed a successful club hit. So there were high expectations for 2000 debut disc Lost Souls. The trio didn’t disappoint, thanks to some gauzy Verve/Radiohead atmospherics. It was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, as was lush follow up Last Broadcast. The melodic grandeur continued on Some Cities.

Now, after a four-year absence, Doves are back and the schizophrenic results are mixed at best. While the band is no stranger to lengthy tunes, several wear out their welcome by the five-minute mark. The stream of consciousness lyrics are average and few enrapture the listener like before.

A Kraftwerk-inspired “Jetstream” finds guitarist/backing vocalist Jez Williams singing in a fragile voice amid fluttering synths and ferocious guitars. The ominous title track is vaguely cinematic. “Outsiders” races ahead like mid-period Pink Floyd, thanks to a squelching bassline and dense, spacey sounds, while “Greatest Denier” mixes children’s playground noises, dreamily floating vocals and circuitous guitars.

John Leckie (Stone Roses) produced prog rock-leaning “Winter Hill,” driven by an idyllic looped pattern and “10.03” (the title refers to a subway train stop). Here, things start sparsely, then build into a guitar maelstrom with Jez’s undecipherable repeated mantra and bombastic drums.

Among the saving graces: fittingly titled “Spellbound,” awash in keyboards and cascading acoustic guitars; the Gang of Four-styled dub funk of “Compulsion,” where Jez really gets to shine and total rocker “House of Mirrors,” complete with sinister vocals and guitar feedback.

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