That’ll be more of me then…

Two more from my reviews archive today. Both of these I stand by, though the second is probably the most bile strewn review I’ve ever written. Firstly, though, the never-ending majesty of Doves.

Doves - Some Cities

DOVES

Put on the headphones, unleash the rain and treat yourself to a truckload of euphoric melancholia as Some Cities sucks you in.

Anyone who has ever witnessed Doves live will vouch that onstage they produce a joyful racket, on a good night transcending their recorded output and achieving something truly beguiling. Their stunning debut, ‘Lost Souls’, was followed by 2002’s ‘The Last Broadcast’, an album that was never less than good but which failed to capture the widescreen sound of which this band are capable. With ‘Some Cities’, Doves come good on their early promise. Lead single, ‘Black And White Town’ careers along with a momentum so ferocious that it drops us smack into the next track before anything can get too familiar.

Never ones to allow genre boundaries to get in the way of a good tune, at times ‘Some Cities’ sounds like Doves have ripped off any number of little ideas, and yet the sum of these parts is ultimately unlike anything I’ve heard in ages. ‘The Storm’ opens with an electronically tinkered vocal and develops into the kind of atmospheric beauty that could soundtrack a million late night drives. This nocturnal claustrophobia dominates much of the record, before collapsing in on itself for the ethereal, and oddly serene, closing track ‘Ambition’.

The lyrics tackle changing relationships, attitudes and places, in most cases not changes for the better. Fear, anguish and battling the worst have always been key lyrical concerns for Doves, but they do it with more conviction than most. When I heard ‘I tried to sleep alone, but I couldn’t do it’, on ‘The Cedar Room’ over five years ago, I believed every word. On this evidence, life hasn’t got much more carefree.

Some Cities is on Heavenly.

Originally published in Word Magazine, 2005

***

billycorgantfe

BILLY CORGAN

Now somewhat less smashing, Billy Corgan returns with The Future Embrace, an album dogged by the past.

It’s rare when a successful band crumbles for the lead singer to subsequently achieve similar success on their own. Going on this evidence, it seems unlikely that Billy Corgan will buck this trend. Where the scope of the Smashing Pumpkins’ music enthralled, the heavy, over-bearing production of this effort ensures that any half-decent songwriting is buried beneath turgid rhythms and distorted drums.

Tracks flow by with such scant regard for the listener’s enjoyment that the tedium begins to annoy. The Eighties sounds that are being so successfully plundered by the likes of The Killers and Goldfrapp are all over this record, and yet someone appears to have forgotten to add anything new to proceedings. It’s a shame that one of the album’s few highlights, ‘Strayz’, is the closing track, as I suspect most people will have got bored some time prior to its fragile melody gracing the speakers. Stripped of the dense noise that suffocates the majority of the album, ‘Strayz’ finds Corgan at his most refreshingly simple, his voice working with the music rather than against it.

The greatest disappointment of the whole affair is the much vaunted collaboration with Robert Smith. At least William Shatner has the good grace to admit he’s taking the piss when he does his covers; Corgan’s attempt at ‘To Love Somebody’ sounds like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang doing a Depeche Mode tune at the local karaoke night. You have been warned.

Originally published in Word Magazine, 2005

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