Doves – The Universal Want
It’s been a long time since Doves’ last release, 2009’s Kingdom of Rust, and most fans had probably consigned the band to the great soundstage in the sky before the unexpected release of new material this year. The album’s lead single Prisoners seems like a rescue effort for those feeling lost and unnerved by lockdown: “We’re just prisoners of these times/ But it won’t be for long”. The record is unashamedly nostalgic, a haunting lament to the loss of times that felt freer and simpler.
The warm response that has greeted The Universal Want and the tour dates announced for next spring show that the group’s audience is still eager to hear new material, which has been adjusted for the intervening 11 years whilst still following their much-loved way of working. Treading a dreamy path between uplifting and melancholy, their sound is characterised by guitars drenched in reverb and distortion, maximalist production values and Goodwin’s keening vocal.
The album opens with Carousel, which samples from Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen’s work, a nod to their dancier incarnations. Mother Silverlake pays homage to the beat of David Bowie’s Sound and Vision, an unexpectedly funky little number, with some customary Doves distortion in the mix.
Before they were Doves, the trio of members were Sub Sub, who had a hugely catchy hit with 1993’s disco Aint No Love (Ain’t No Use). Their formative years were spent raving in fields under the Pennine sky and you can hear that influence in highlight Cathedrals of the Mind. Lyrically a love song to David Bowie (according the band – the theme is not overt), Goodwin also describes the track as a “prayer to sonics” that recollects ravers “going insane” in a field. This is guitar music informed by a raver’s predilection for losing and then relocating their mind alongside thousands of strangers. Whether one realises it or not, those moments 30 years ago have informed a large part of our contemporary culture, not least the proliferation of festivals all over our land up until 2020. Basically, we like getting high on love and other drugs in fields, and it’s not just young people missing that feeling of release.
The Universal Want is strangely soothing, like a hug from a stranger at a party that started gloriously and has all gone a bit wrong.
Photo: Jon Shard
The Universal Want is released on 18th September 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Doves – The Universal Want Doves’ website here.
Watch the video for Broken Eyes here: