March 18, 2005

Review: When Doves Cry

Album: Some Cities
Artist: Doves
Album Type: Outperformer

Have any of you read anything by Steinbeck? It really doesnít matter if you have or not but I want to start with an analogy. Grapes of Wrath was an epic novel, grand in scope and deeply layered and textured. It was detailed, providing depth and granularity. Almost equally effective was Of Mice and Men despite the fact that its about a fifth the length. It is precise, economical, yet packs no less of an emotional punch. What I'm saying is that in most situations, size really doesn't matter. Its how you use whatcha got. The same could be said for Dove's recent release, Some Cities.

Doves have always been adventurous Ė that much was evident when they released their debut, Lost Souls. The songs on that album alternated between complex, artistic rock and more immediate sounding Brit-pop. Their sophomore effort, The Last Broadcast, showed an even more arty, progressive side. Songs were longer, a bit more complex yet no less emotionally satisfying. And Iím sure its for this reason that ardent fans are scratching their heads a little bit while listening to Some Cities.

Some Cities finds the band crafting shorter, straightforward songs with addictive beats. Its more immediate, in-your-face than previous efforts. Itís their Of Mice and Men And as with their previous efforts, there still exists a sense of adventure, unique style and unwillingness to sound like every other band. Take, for instance, a raw Joshua Tree-era U2. Combine it with a small dose of early 70s Pink Floyd and sprinkle in liberal amounts of British pop. Stir well. Chill. Some Cities has the intensity of mid to late 80s U2 (although Doves has a better guitarist), the experimental tendencies of early Floyd and the overall pop/rock sensibilities of British bands, from the Beatles to Snow Patrol and Elbow.

Upon first play, the album didnít feel comfortable. The crunchy title track opens the album and its heavy-handed beat is reinforced by the first single, Black and White Town. Its only a third of the way through the album that things get interesting and it begins to sink in that this is really a fine album. Rich arrangements and lush orchestration pepper exemplary tracks such as Snowden and Walk In Fire, while the reverb from their strategically used harmonica seems to stretch for miles in places. The only true disappointment is the lack of a powerful song to close the album. But that's just a very minor problem that doesn't detract from the overall excellence of the album.

Doves and Mercury Rev, another excellent and underappreciated band, will be hitting the road this spring.

I also feel obligated to pimp...
-Doves: The Last Broadcast
-Doves: Lost Souls
-Mercury Rev: All Is Dream
-Elbow: Cast of Thousands

Posted by Chris at March 18, 2005 1:02 PM

"Catch The Sun" - great tune.

Posted by: Jason at March 18, 2005 4:16 PM

I love "Last Broadcast".

Posted by: Alison at March 18, 2005 4:38 PM

Doves. Oh hell yes. Two thumbs and two big toes up from yours truly.

Posted by: sledge at March 18, 2005 4:39 PM

this sounds like something we'd like... thanks Cactus!

Posted by: monique at March 18, 2005 5:09 PM

Steinbeck wrote the best novel ever - East of Eden. Brilliant. Stunning. Hurts me to think of how good it is.

Posted by: bisous at March 18, 2005 7:01 PM

Thumbs up to your choices! You listent to too??

Posted by: bd at March 18, 2005 7:45 PM

You had me at Steinbeck. Seriously. He's my favorite author. And now I must own this CD.

Posted by: DeAnn at March 19, 2005 1:49 AM

You totally lost me on the bands. And I used to work for record labels!! I;ve lost touch. Thanks buddy!!

Posted by: mrsmogul at March 19, 2005 6:58 AM

Awesome! Must. buy. music.

Posted by: Sashinka at March 20, 2005 10:34 AM

"All is Dream" is a great album. It gets much play on our MP3 player.

Posted by: Kim at March 20, 2005 11:46 PM

I love you for promoting two of my favorite bands. I've been spreading the elbow-word after almost imploding with my love and appreciation for them (check out their debut album as well: Asleep in the Back. It has gems like Powder Blue, Red, and Newborn on it). Doves, apparently do not even need my help.

I truly enjoy reading your blog, always cheers me up =)

Posted by: Romy at March 21, 2005 3:33 PM