Release Date: Apr 7, 2009
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
For most of the noughties, record-buyers have indulged in a weird neophilia. It's not so much wanting to hear music unlike anything they've heard before - quite the opposite - but wanting a regular turnover of new artists: unfamiliar faces doing oddly familiar things. The effect on the life expectancy of bands has been dramatic. These days, if you manage to get to your third album without a collapse in sales and interest, you qualify for a royal telegram and a flypast from the Red Arrows.
Four years after retreating to the English countryside to record 2005's Some Cities, Doves return to a more urban state of mind with Kingdom of Rust. "My god," Jimi Goodwin sings during the title track, "it takes an ocean of trust in the kingdom of rust." Guitars chime throughout the chorus, where Goodwin's baritone searches of a lost love amidst a town's landscape. A string section makes an appearance toward the song's conclusion, bringing with it the same sweeping, Brit-pop uplift that fueled the band's debut album.
Doves have always felt a little like Elbow's extrovert alter ego; a band happier being at the heart of the maelstrom than contemplating its hung-over afterglow. Whereas Elbow can be characterised by their cap-in-hand romanticism, Doves have always been better suited to the role of escapists. For Elbow's unabashed honesty, Doves respond in kind with vistas of widescreen imagery.
Like a rock joked that Coldplay wasn’t the hardest rock band in the world; they were more like limestone. But most Coldplay choruses don’t quite reach the heights of Coldplay’s best, but the noisy guitars and clashing industrial beats that launch them skyward make the band even more satisfying. On Doves’ fourth LP, Kingdom of Rust, the music is more granite than limestone, continuing 2005 album Some Cities’ move toward cacophonous beauty.
The story of Doves puts lie to the old adage that "it's all about the music, man. " Because if it really were all about the music, Jez and Andy Williams would be the most famous brothers to come out of Manchester, Jimi Goodwin would be the go-to Britpop duet partner for Jay-Z and Kanye, and all those "Viva La Vida" ringtones you hear going off at Urban Outfitters would be replaced by a digitized symphony of Doves' "Black and White Town". But as their back-story includes no tabloid-baiting tales of fraternal fisticuffs or marriages to Hollywood starlets, Doves could be the most unassuming, unsung band to have scored back-to-back UK No.
Going back to the first time they made their mark among the post-Britpop wave of UK rock bands in the late ‘90s, Doves have always been at their very best when taking chances. When 2000’s gorgeous debut Lost Souls didn’t see the Manchester trio cleverly imbuing their downbeat compositions with ambient shoegaze drones and subtle dance influences, a song like the iridescent “Catch the Sun” would serve up four immaculate minutes of upbeat pop. The Last Broadcast (2002) was even bolder: “There Goes the Fear” was an ingenious blend of melancholy and euphoria in the great tradition of New Order, “Pounding” sounded like the kind of rousing stadium rocker that neither U2 or Oasis could no longer pull off, and “Caught By the River” was a stately slice of soul underscored by the band’s trademark squalls of effects.
Review Summary: Still a likable band, still not ready for the big time.Both bands will no doubt be sick to the teeth of the comparisons by this point, but it's hard to get around the fact that the reception of Kingdom of Rust is defined by the success Elbow have had with The Seldom Seen Kid. Both are British bands who were mentioned when, five minutes after the release of "In My Place", people began asking who would be the next Coldplay, and both have been largely defined since by their failure to truly break away from the second tier. And now, suddenly, both are defined by their longevity; longevity which has seen their fanbases remain largely intact despite a seismic shift in the way British rock sounds.
There’s an unwritten rule in this business that we call show, that once you’ve released a couple of albums, you fit into some form of “rock hierarchy” where climbing the ladder can prove almost impossible. At the top are your million-selling stadium rockers: a select band of artists whose every move is reported and could release an album consisting entirely of guitar feedback and the mating call of the sperm whale and would still sell millions. We’re talking U2, REM, Bruce Springsteen.
Doves are from Wilmslow, Cheshire, and the north-west has long been a presence in their work. We're not talking about the kitchen-sink dramas of the Smiths' Manchester or the Beatles' Liverpool here, but the topography of the entire region. This is a band who not only named a track on their second album, 2002's The Last Broadcast, after the M62, the motorway that links Hull to Liverpool, but recorded said track under one of its flyovers.