Why this band aren’t bloody huge, I’ll never know. In the last ten years they have released four astonishingly good albums and several spellbinding singles and yet nobody ever seems to make much of a fuss about them. The story of how I fell in love with the band will keep for another time, but this is the story of how I rekindled that love after allowing them to fade from focus and simply sit on the shelf for some time.
Regular readers of this blog will have seen my review of Doves’ third album, ‘Some Cities’, posted recently as part of my self-indulgent revisiting of former glories, and will know that I rated that record pretty highly. Four years having passed since that album appeared, by the time I found out that the band were finally returning, they’d slipped down the pecking order rather and I needed convincing again. It didn’t take long. One listen to the album’s title track and I was sold. A strangely understated five minutes of music, it was a combination of everything I love about Doves: a shuffly drum beat, peculiar guitar noises winding in and out, a slight tease about when the chorus will actually kick in and then an actual chorus that doesn’t soar on its first couple of outings, but which gradually takes flight until the latter renditions are something you can belt out shamelessly in the privacy of your own home, car or local concert venue.
Their Nottingham Rock City gig earlier this year was the best show of theirs I’ve seen. They seemed to have gone from being a slow-paced indie band who did a few fast ones to an energy-packed, fast-paced indie band who do a couple of slow numbers. We even got ‘Spaceface’ out of them, which meant we all left grinning like absolute twats. Listening to ‘Jetstream’ and ‘Compulsion’ thumping out of enormous speakers as the band seemed more lost in the music than ever before, I was bordering on ecstatic. It was one of those concerts where you forget everything for the duration and leave wondering how you’ll ever top it, even though you know that it happens from time to time.
The New Order comparisons stand up to a certain extent, but I’m not sure Barney and Hooky ever quite managed such a heavy sound, and the almost anti-song approach of aforementioned album opener, ‘Jetstream’, which seems to build then lull, build then lull all over the place and, in an ideal world, would go on for pretty much all of eternity. It says a lot that the normally promo-only instrumental version of this record was released for purchase as a download recently, such is the strength of the actual music on this album. It is certainly their most accomplished record, but perhaps not quite their best.