[Heavenly; 2009]

“It wouldn’t hurt you to f***in’ move around a bit” snarled Jimi Goodwin to a half-filled arena of bemused onlookers chatting to each other whilst waiting for the night’s headline band Travis to come onstage. This was back in 2003 at my first ever rock concert experience. I had never heard of Doves before but there was no doubt on leaving the venue that night that they had left a big impression on me. Their second album The Last Broadcast, released a few weeks later was the first album I ever eagerly anticipated the release of and it enchanted and enthralled me. Consequently I picked up their debut album Lost Souls and their 2005 album Some Cities when it was released a couple of years later, I even grabbed a copy of the b-sides collection Lost Sides somewhere in between. However in the four years that have passed since their last album my music library has vastly expanded they’ve been lost in the shuffle, only resurfacing from time to time when I want a nostalgic listen. Now comes their fourth album Kingdom Of Rust which seems like something of an anomaly to me, a Doves album without any great memories attached; could it live up to what I have come to expect of them?

The album kicks off with two previously released songs ‘Jetstream’ and the title track ‘Kingdom of Rust’; the former a free download from the official site whilst the latter is the lead single. ‘Jetstream’ does not find the band sounding rusty at all; the opening whirring noises sound like the band’s engines firing on all cylinders as they take off through a magnificent flowing track that doesn’t stop for breath. The raising tones that start off ‘The Outsiders’ suggest a warning that we’re entering uncharted territory for Doves but this idea is quickly disposed of as the songs come thick and fast in the classic unassuming soft rock style that Doves are known to produce. They might not have changed their sound but they have certainly expanded and embellished it; often incorporating use of violins on many tracks either to compliment the song as on ‘The Outsiders’, add style to it as heard on ‘Kingdom of Rust ‘ or guide songs like ‘Birds Flew Backwards’. With the wide range of instruments used and the broad sounding anthems that they produce it is easy to forget that there are only three members of this band.

Lyrically the album remains for the most part in the real world, so much so at times that they can border on the mundane; stories about walking up hills or catching trains is perfectly good material for a chat over a cup of tea but it is unlikely to capture the imaginations of thousands of fans. Fortunately Doves have always had a certain musical and technical prowess that allows them to get away with this; the driving bass at the end of ’10:03′ that makes you feel as if you’re on the train, the intertwining backing vocals and violins on ‘Birds Flew Backwards’ that create the breeze and the echoed vocals on ‘House of Mirrors’ are just a few examples of how Doves bring their songs to life musically.

This album brings together all of the elements that we’ve come to know and love from Doves and adds some new ones to great result for the most part. Standout track ‘Spellbound’ harks back to the first album whilst the majestic title track shows how the band has matured and yet they still all manage to fit seamlessly together on to one album. The songs that make up this album piece together into the natural next step for Doves, even if it is several years after the last this is the surest one they’ve made yet.