tue 22/09/2020

Album: Doves - The Universal Want | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Doves - The Universal Want

Album: Doves - The Universal Want

The Manchester three-piece end a decade-long hiatus in style

If Doves have a “thing”, it’s that they do “big” with impeccable intimacy. Over ten years and four albums, they consistently displayed exactly the sort of connection that bands like Coldplay and Keane pretend to have. Huge, sweeping scores and broad emotional swells that feel like an old friend putting their arm around you and telling you you're not on your own.

If Doves have a “thing”, it’s that they do “big” with impeccable intimacy. Over ten years and four albums, they consistently displayed exactly the sort of connection that bands like Coldplay and Keane pretend to have. Huge, sweeping scores and broad emotional swells that feel like an old friend putting their arm around you and telling you you're not on your own.

More than a decade since Kingdom of Rust, their farewell (of sorts), Doves are back, and not a moment too soon. Given the year so far, we could all do with a cuddle, sonic or otherwise.

The seeds of The Universal Want were sown in a no-pressure jam session in the Lake District and, perhaps predictably, the result is the sound of friendships and pieces falling back into place. Partly this is down to the comfortable ease of the songs gathered together on this album, but pin-sharp programming and clever arrangements are also at play. While Doves often seem steeped in traditional songcraft, they’re also masters of carefully crafted track assembly.

Opener “Carousels” is as good an example as any. A Tony Allen sample keeps the groove in check while a dirty, distorted bassline is freed up to muddy the waters. Then comes the soaring stuff, the chiming guitars with the simple, repeated motif that’s guaranteed to soundtrack at least one Goal of the Month montage before Christmas. There’s a mathematical precision to the layout that is studied yet never staid; precise without lacking spontaneity. It’s a rich vein that runs through the collection from the mid-album pivot-point dub of “Cathedrals of the Mind” through to “Universal Want”, an epic, slow-climb that builds to a blissed-out boogie before fading away, leave just a bubbling acid track, underpinning everything with random abandon.

That said, there’s also some cracking full-tilt pop tunes here as well. “Prisoners” is a Scott Walker-esque romp, Jimi Goodwin’s downbeat, everyman tones providing a compelling emotional temper to the upbeat backing. “Broken Eyes” meanwhile, begins with a disarmingly unshowy verse that then drops its shoulder before turning on a sixpence into a chorus that offers near-perfect release.

Ultimately, “The Universal Want” is the sound of ideas synthesising, of conversations clicking. Here’s hoping there’s more of those to come.

@jahshabby

Steeped in traditional songcraft, they’re also masters of carefully crafted track assembly

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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