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Doves - The Universal Want (Album Review)

Monday, 14 September 2020 Written by Graeme Marsh

As time disappeared following the release of Doves’ last album ‘Kingdom of Rust’, the eventuality dreaded by so many appeared to have been made real—the band were done. Although a split was never announced, Jimi Goodwin’s solo album ‘Odludek’ and the Williams brothers' own detours as Black Rivers left us all fearing the worst. 

But back in 2017 things changed. The trio returned to their former orbit and began working on music in a low-stakes environment, pooling new ideas and resurrecting old ones, including a few that didn’t quite make ‘Kingdom of Rust’, as well as an even older song, For Tomorrow.

The reunion clearly sparked life into them all, resulting in the basis for a new album but also a desire to perform live again, an itch they scratched by playing a handful of gigs last year, including a special show at the Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer Trust. And by taking this rediscovered vigour and harnessing it, a highly unexpected fifth album has finally materialised. ‘The Universal Want’ was certainly worth the wait.

Lead single Carousels—also the album opener here—is a cracker. It’s an instant Doves classic where a simple three-chord structure and phenomenal percussion lead to a fitting chorus and a minor chord shift that seals the deal. Oh, how we’ve missed this. 

Prisoners came along next and is set deep within the Doves mould once again, as is the superb Broken Eyes. In fact, it’s hard to believe that it isn’t already an old favourite. It’s so familiar yet so fresh, and so perfect.

Mesmerising guitar hooks have long been another feather in Doves’ cap, and a sublime one pops up during the excellent Cycle of Hurt, where strings enter the fray for a Verve moment. Another winner arrives with the bouncy Mother Silverlake, where falsetto vocals and chiming guitars point to U2’s Lemon. 

I Will Not Hide, meanwhile, is a glorious, chilled out cut that seems to be second nature—this is Doves in cruise control, the kind of track they knock out without even trying. But there’s also plenty of room for some surprises, such as the sorrowful lament Cathedrals of the Mind, and the military drum pattern of the excellent, psychedelic title track that hazily drifts in and out.

With the band recording on their own terms and with having fun as a priority, ‘The Universal Want’ is a clear indication of how the industry shackles have been cast off. Without those pressures being exerted from above, the freedom found with the ability to work at their own pace is telling. It might have taken a while but Doves are back, and they’re as good as ever.

Doves Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun March 21 2021 - CARDIFF Cardiff University Students Union
Mon March 22 2021 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Tue March 23 2021 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Thu March 25 2021 - BRIGHTON Brighton Dome
Fri March 26 2021 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Sat March 27 2021 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Mon March 29 2021 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Tue March 30 2021 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Thu April 01 2021 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Fri April 02 2021 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Sat April 03 2021 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Mon April 05 2021 - LIVERPOOL Liverpool Olympia
Tue April 06 2021 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Wed April 07 2021 - BELFAST Limelight
Fri April 09 2021 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Sat April 10 2021 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Sun April 11 2021 - GLASGOW Barrowland

Click here to compare & buy Doves Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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