“Close your brown eyes and lay down next to me.”
Capitol Records. 2002.
“There Goes the Fear”
In the summer of 2002, back in the days of having dial-up at home, I asked one of my friends with a high-speed connection to download some songs by a list of bands I had heard were good but hadn’t heard much from. Sorting through the hundreds of songs, I stumbled upon Doves’ epic 7-minute long “There Goes the Fear” and after one listen I was sold, and shortly thereafter bought their sophomore effort The Last Broadcast — who says music sharing is bad for business?
Doves formed in Manchester in 1998, with Jimi Goodwin (vocals, bass) and twin brothers Jez (guitar) & Andy Williams (drums), who had achieved success in the early-90s with a dance music group called Sub Sub before deciding to switch to rock (thankfully) but maintaining some of their dance roots. First came 2000’s Lost Souls, which had some excellent songs and established Doves’ distinctive sonically charged melodic sound, but was a darker, moodier album than its followup.
The Last Broadcast was released in 2002 and hit #1 in the UK but didn’t have the same kind of success in the U.S., and I think part of that is that the best songs on the album are too long for radio, and the radio-edits used for the singles and music videos just don’t replicate the real thing. The album, as all great albums should, works best when listened to straight through and most of the songs naturally transition into each other. Doves shows it is equally proficient in a number of styles from loud, anthemic rock, to quieter acoustic, vocal-driven songs to Radiohead-esque electronic tracks.
An instrumental opening track segues into the first full-length song, “Words”, a solid, catchy opener in which Jez Williams’ takes the lead vocals from Goodwin, singing that “words, they mean nothing/so you can’t hurt me.” The track establishes the pervading theme of the album, which focuses on getting out of depressing situations and striving for a better life. “Words” is followed by my favorite song off the album, and one of my top-10 favorite songs of all-time, the aforementioned “There Goes the Fear”, which mixes Goodwin’s vocals, pulsating rhythms and a lot of background production to create an absolutely awesome song about letting go and embracing life.
The next song, “M62” is a quiet, ethereal version of King Crimson’s “Moonchild” and provides an excellent contrast to “There Goes the Fear” while leading into the second instrumental, “Where We’re Coming From” which in turn leads into the kick-ass opening guitar riffs of “N.Y.” On “N.Y.”, a six minute song with vocals wrapped around a long guitar-heavy instrumental, Goodwin sings the praises of escaping to my current home base — “Everything they say is true/This city is insane”. The song wraps up with a quiet verse, transitioning into “Satellites” a 7 minute song steeped in electronica and Doves’ dance days that is very reminiscent of Radiohead and builds slowly from quiet to loud.
“Friday’s Dust” follows, a sad, dark, moody song that sort of feels out of place, but is followed by the aptly named rhythmic “Pounding” which would have also made an excellent opening track and was the album’s second single. On it, Goodwin sings of trying to save a self-destructive lover and telling her to “See the light” and “Seize the Time” because “It won’t last forever.” It’s followed by the haunting title track, an oddly hopeful breakup song. Next is the somewhat forgettable “The Sulphur Man” before the album closes perfectly with the bittersweet and beautiful “Caught by the River” which along with “There Goes the Fear” are the two songs I’d play for anyone who asked what Doves sounded like.
Doves followed with 2005’s Some Cities, which though inconsistent, has some great songs, especially “Walk in Fire” and the title track. Supposedly a new album is due later this year and I am looking forward to more from one of the better and underrated (in the U.S., at least) bands out there today.
“Caught by the River”