This is the sound of a band pushing themselves to the limit of their songwriting...
Dan Tallis 2002
Doves are back with a remarkably affecting record that gives the listener a real insight into the mindset of band members Jez, Andy & Jimi. This is an album about the transitory nature of life, there's a mistrust of the new and a simple mourning for what's passed. There's a respectful remembrance of what's been been lost, be it physical (buildings in Manchester and Liverpool) or metaphysical (friendships, sense of belonging, love).
Album opener "Some Cities" sees the band attempt to come to terms with the changes in their hometowns after returning from a two year tour of the world. "Black And White Town", the band's first full attempt at Northern Soul and recent single, continues the theme of city life; specifically escaping its daily grind.
There is a wonderful contrast between these insular city songs with the expansive "Snowden" and the Sigur Ros-like final track "Ambition". Here the sense of frustration is replaced with joy and hope. The differences in mood might be explained by the fact that the album was recorded in Liverpool, London and near Loch Ness.
"Walk In Fire" is one of many stand out tracks. A classic big beat forms the backbone of the song and reminds you more of the band's Sub Sub, Madchester roots. A siren, tasty guitars, gospel-like backing vocals and a sing-along chorus all combine magically and confirm how far they've grown musically since those early days.
It's clear the success of their first two albums (both were nominated for the Mercury prize and sold bucket loads) has given Doves the confidence to explore new ideas. This is the sound of a band pushing themselves to the limit of their songwriting abilities and they're clearly enjoying every minute. "The Storm", for example,features wonderful cinematic strings and the best mouth organ this side of The The's Mind Bomb.
In these days of new acts shooting to fame (this year's V festival will be headlined by two acts that only have one album to their names - Franz Ferdinand and Scissor Sisters), let's celebrate a band who've been around for over ten years and who keep on getting better and better with each release.