A deservedly successful record, and a Mercury favourite.
Chris Beanland 2009-10-07
When this album came out in 2000, it was a gift to journalists grinding axes about how the bilious superclub movement was beginning to flounder. Doves formed from the ashes of early 90s dance-pop group Sub Sub, the same trio of brothers Andy and Jez Williams alongside Jimi Godwin turning away from the dance floor, picking up guitars, and combining to make an album which would garner a Mercury Music Prize nomination.
Lost Souls was a record that was widely discussed, and people wondered aloud whether its success marked the end of another era of dance music. In truth, it was a record about growing up; about giving up the drugs and the madness of the Hacienda, where the three Cheshire lads met. But because the simmering emotion on songs like The Cedar Room was expressed through guitars rather than synths, in no way did that mean that Doves were taking dance music out the back and burying it in a shallow grave.
No, in fact there were driving drum loops, and contrary to what your memory might recall it wasn’t all mournful, steamy train window memories of Greater Manchester in the rain either. That dance spirit was kept alive on the single Catch the Sun, which went on to become the most recognised track taken from Lost Souls and, perhaps ironically, an indie club floor-filler.
But there was emotion, too – The Cedar Room is a beautiful seven-minute break-up song that complains: “I tried to sleep alone, but I couldn’t do it”. This was a pop album that eventually appealed widely, and not just to the grown-up clubbers that could have been its sole audience.
The odd dud vocal spoiled the package slightly, and between the good songs one could feel attentions drifting as the band stuck too close to just one blueprint. The three were also cursed with a workmanlike image, and hadn’t the charisma to capture the public imagination in the way some of their peers did. Nevertheless, this was a deservedly successful record. Interestingly, the electro tones they ditched as Sub Sub sounded almost exactly like those which would win Friendly Fires a Mercury nod for their debut in 2009. Sometimes things go in cycles.