Doves - The Universal Want - Album Review

Published on 17 September 2020 at 08:15

By Robin Mumford of The Indie Plug

After 11 years of absence from the omnipresent music scene of Manchester, Doves have mustered up an album that cements their spot amongst the greats of what can only be described as the epicentre of British music. Singalong choruses that are reminiscent of Oasis, compelling guitar instrumentals that accommodate the punk fanatics of Joy Division and The Smiths, all tied together by their own personalities makes way for a brilliant fourth craft. Doves have certainly not lost their musical touch. 

In a recent interview with NME, Jimi Goodwin explained that the opening track ‘Carousels’ is a “good harbinger of the album and just a great mission statement. Without having any agenda or a backstory as to what the record is, it just shows off our love of sonic weirdness, atmosphere and energy. We unanimously knew that this would be great as the first thing people hear of us coming out of the gate after all this time. It’s a mission statement.” The ambience in this number really brings to life a feeling of time slowing down and this is a theme throughout the whole of ‘Universal Want.’ It really feels like Doves have implied a notion of thought provoking lyrics and storytelling in their long awaited release. 

Universal Want’ is a perfect example of what a band can curate when there is no pressure. You can really sense that over the course of their absence, Doves had a lot of ideas just ready to be strung together and shown off; Atmosphere and energy is exactly what this album brings to the party. The theme of the slowing down of time continues throughout the next two singles ‘I Will Not Hide’ and ‘Broken Eyes’ with the latter of the two showcasing the strength of vocals of the Manchester formed band. Lifelong fans of Doves will find great comfort in ‘Broken Eyes’ as it seeks an upbeat chorus that can be similarly heard in their past anthems such as ‘Black And White Town.’ 

Watching a bustling fairground from a hilltop is exactly where I picture myself when listening to what I consider the albums highlight ‘Cathedrals Of The Mind.’ As the title of this meticulously mellow song suggests, our mind is much bigger than we could ever imagine and sometimes we must take a step back to assess our situation and move forward. While fairgrounds are hectic, Doves have taken a viewpoint of an outsider to create a bigger picture and endeavour deeper into nostalgia. The slow paced and ambient vibe at the start of ‘Cathedrals Of The Mind’ accompanied by Jez William’s heavenly vocals is untouchable as the song swiftly but effectively takes a turn into punky New Order ways halfway through. The electric undertones throughout the latter half of the song link back perfectly to when Goodwin told NME that ‘it just shows off our love of sonic weirdness.’ 

Though the first half of the album is strongest, ‘Mother Silverlake’ must be mentioned among the best Doves have to offer. Transportive and funky, the journey that this song takes you on his weird and wonderful with its psychedelic vibes surrounded by dance like instrumentals. What follows is more heavenly vocals from William’s in the album titled song ‘Universal want.’ the way that Doves have mixed vocals and music in this album makes it a journey of all kinds of levels.

It's been a long time coming for Doves, but their fourth album hasn't failed to produce the same quality that they showed all those years ago. Whilst some songs are reminiscent of their past creations, the twist on their creativity from past to present is effective and they have still got all that it takes to continue in their path along Manchester’s musical greats. ****


Buy The Universal Want on vinyl here

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