Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag England - Full Moon 103 - 02/24/05

The Doves
Some Cities

The Doves are a relatively new rock band (Debut in 98) from Manchester England and have had a fairly good deal of popular success there. "There Goes the Fear", from their 2002 album and 2nd LP The Last Broadcast, a great song that reminds me of those times and singlehandedly made me fall in love with The Doves, debuted at #1 on British charts. I'm quite enamored with youthful British guitar bands such as The Doves, Clearlake, and Six By Seven, or even going back to the likes of The Verve: to me they're keeping rock alive because, while not playing some brand new style, these bands generally pull off having a very original sound. Some might say the same for Franz Ferdinand, but critically, I think something like Clearlake blows Franz Ferdinand out of the water in terms of uniqueness.

However, while I'm looking forward to this new Doves release a whole bunch, another thing that goes along with music like this is a higher tendency towards flopping and one-hit- or one-album-wondering. Please, good lord let this be good. There hasn't been a decent guitar rock album in 2005 (and I'm just not interested in that Bloc Party business, heard their first eps and whatnot and I thought they just sounded downright terrible). Hell the first quarter of the year is nearly up! Capitol might just have another damned good record on their hands. But as always, we'll see.

After writing the review I realized that I accidentally have been starting out with track 3, because while win-amp sounds better than I-tunes, the playlist leaves much to be desired. Shoulda checked, but the album actually works really well this way, so it didn't matter. ;-)

The opener "Almost Forgot Myself" amazingly brings me right back to a good memory of this band. I'm always really impressed when a band is able, through a new song, to remind me who they are. Yes! This song gets my hopes up a lot. To boot, it's chocked full of great melodies: a melody bassline propels a great vocal melody that is framed by a hell of a guitar melody, all backed by a talking heads-ish (no ripping off) drum part. Quarters on the snare, snare tuned high. You know? Formally, The Doves are pretty "sectiony" here, but not to any ill-effect.

"Snowden" begins with a beautiful satiny guitar sound playing a melody strait out of 10,000 years ago, or an old western. I find myself very amazed that this is a trio. What a wonderful sound! Jimi Goodwin plays such melodic bassparts while he sings melodies that just don't let you leave them behind. God, Goodwin gets me right there, knows what I've been thinking! Oh how wonderful. This is a real hell of a song. This album finds The Doves growing so well. "The Storm" is a slow, almost-blue affair whose strings allow for a bit of chill-out time. This song says "It's now the part of the album where you smoke opium". Just kidding. Actually the lyrics are the wisest part of any of these songs, something I'm always very fond of. Good song, everything is good here.

Truly, this is an album best listened to on vinyl - you're almost going to need that break in the middle. Have a smoke if you smoke cigaretts. I don't know, have a beer. Go back and re-listen! I honestly hope this isn't just nostalgia talking, but I'm finding myself falling for them again, and falling hard. "Walk In Fire"'s finger-picked guitar part sounds awesome, but is a bit more slow-going than the previous three. Not a bad chorus, but the four to the floor doesn't make a lot of sense here, the beat's all sort of messed up sounding. And the finger-picking begins to get a little lost. There is a very awesome vocal part that sounds like someone making an american siren-sound. This song for some reason just doens't make the same kind of sense as the opening of the album. It seems out of place and, the worst thing critically about it is that it really sounds like it's trying to capitalize on "There Goes the Fear".

We're back to that fucking perfect sound with "One of These Days". I love the four to the snare out of this band's drummer. The only misstep in the song is the guitar soloing, which honestly rivals Dead Meadow in the shittiness department. Luckily they keep it short (unlike the aforementioned, who do it for five minutes in every song on the album), and don't ruin the song. They wryly follow "One of These Days" with "Someday Soon". Maybe it's just me, but "Someday Soon" is a song that sounds "out of place" in almost the exact same way as "Walk In Fire", making it doubly wry and adding an amazing cohesion to this album.

We're greeted with a little piano in "Shadows of Salford" and a very odd voice out of Goodwin. While a little surprising, it is not displeasingly so. This song seems very longing for a childhood, perhaps one that will come after death. It's almost as though they've allowed this or some such sentiment color them so much on this song that it's become its own sound, fairly different from the rest of The Doves' sound. A nice song. In another nifty album move, they answer that death-wish with somewhat of a warning. Thankfully "Sky Starts Falling" is more than a good move on the album. This is a really great song. It moves to "Ambition", another slow, reverb drenched chill-out tune, this one less blue but more sad than "The Storm". This song has really beautiful melodies.

In another wry move, the title track begins the denoument. [It's funny how well the album works starting with track 3! You should try it!] "Some Cities" is a high energy big guitar rock song, but as far from cock-rock as possible. The stuff I love. "Some Cities" doesn't quite stick out as a great single, but as concluding material it works quite well. [heh] The last song is called "Black and White Town". This will be a great single. They totally redeem themselves from the earlier solo blunder in this song. This solo reminds me of them, like a solo should. A very awesome way to finish out a very awesome record.

Some Cities is an engaging and original rock album, and I have to hand it to this Manchester trio. They've gone further on this record than I'd ever have imagined.

Copyright © 2005 Bill Banks e-mail address

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