EMI, 2009

Do Doves love April? Of their four major LP releases (not counting those released as Sub Sub), three have been released in this month.  It comes at the right time, when the Northern Hemisphere is emerging from the pervading darkness and optimism is trickling in.  Whatever the case, April really seems to love Doves, and it’s justified.  This is big sound that’ll rip you from whatever distress you’ve had in the past few months.

What makes Doves such a great band is its versatility—albums are well produced, and for the most part,  live performances are full of drama with professional light sets that build at just the right moments.  This is a band that has spent the past 17 years together, producing a variety of music that swings from their house days to catchy, singles-heavy alternative rock to here, some echoes of 1970s funk.  Their well-practiced partnership shows.

On this new album, there are several standout tracks. The aforementioned funk stylings are best noticed on “Compulsion”, which exudes sensuality and could serve as a perfect aural turning point in a club evening.  “Winter Hill” is Kingdom of Rust’s “Here it Comes,” solidly produced by John Leckie, who also tracked the languid and suspenseful “10:03” (arranged by Tom Rowlands of Chemical Brothers).  “Spellbound” is a romantic waltz.

Doves have seemed to re-embrace their house background, and Dan Austin (programmer for Massive Attack) contributes much to the electro sound of several tracks. “Jetstream”, the first single that was released via MP3 a month ago, recalls Sub Sub’s “Space Face” for the first 20 seconds or so; later, it has some floating electronic riffs that trail in and out and pleasant fuzzed out guitar. Another track, “The Greatest Denier”, is begging to be remixed by Jacques Lu Cont.

Overwhelmingly, songs tend to be intense like those of Lost Souls, more than of Doves’ other interceding albums. There’s no blatant “Caught by the River” or “There Goes the Fear” but there’s some Lost Souls –era “Cedar Room” and “Firesuite.” That being said, it’s not a perfect album– “Birds Flew Backwards” has some nice strings but is relatively a throwaway track.

Friends-of-Doves Elbow did a session at Abbey Road for their similarly strong album The Never Seen Kid in which the BBC concert orchestra accompanied the band and here’s hoping that Kingdom of Rust gets similar treatment.This is a pleasant turnout from these Mancunians, always seemingly aware of the beauty of rich sounds.