Thursday, April 9, 2009

Doves - Kingdom of Rust

Four years since their last release (Some Cities) the UK's Doves are back with Kingdom of Rust. Way back in January, guitarist Jez Williams told the NME that the songs recorded for the record were "so schizophrenic, but... also strangely cohesive." Truer words have never been spoken.
The first three tracks alone are a perfect illustration of Williams' statement. The album starts out with "Jetstream," which begins harmlessly enough before gaining a disconnected, tense quality thanks to its methodically-layered synths and percussion. This somehow manages to flow perfectly into the album's title track, which blends elements of country and orchestral music, while still managing to sound like classic Doves thanks to its cheerfully melancholy vibe. When the song is over, the listener is instantly transported into what feels like a chase scene in a science fiction movie during the first few seconds of "The Outsiders."

It looks like the Doves have gained back a bit of the edge they seemed to have lost back when Some Cities came out, and the end result is a delightful, genuinely interesting mix of sounds. This is also the album where Doves' past as dance act Sub Sub becomes obvious — this may be part of the reason why the album has such a triumphant sound.

The only place where the dance influence becomes a bit of a problem is during "Compulsion," which is a little too reminiscent of Blondie. While I'm not the first person to make this comparison, I would like to note that I'd actually avoided reading and listening to much about/of the album. But I actually found myself humming the melody from "Rapture," when I first heard the opening beats of "Compulsion," which indicates a slight lack of innovation in the latter.

Nonetheless, it can safely be said that this is one of the strongest albums to emerge so far in 2009, and it marks a positive return for the Doves. Long absence or not, they're still a band worthy of the attention they receive. It will be interesting to see what they'll do next.

Stream Kingdom of Rust below:

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