- 11 Sep 20
Much anticipated return from Manchester indie darlings.
The Williams brothers, Jez and Andy, and Jimi Goodwin released four albums in the early 2000s but have been suspiciously quiet since 2009’s Kingdom Of Rust, apart from a Best Of the following year. An online petition to get them to reform in 2018 was followed by a charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall in March of last year, which in turn led to a series of festival appearances (remember them!) last summer, while they teased fans with talk of a fifth album, which finally arrives in the shape of The Universal Want.
Freed from the album-tour-repeat pressure that saw the trio decide to take a hiatus back in 2009, The Universal Want is a wonderful return to form, all stately soundscapes, pulsing rhythms and toe-tappingly addictive melodies that worm their way into your consciousness after a few listens. It’s there in the rumbling percussion of the opening ‘Carousels’, a big, bruised beauty of a song; it’s there in the scintillating ‘Prisoners’, where melodrama has never sounded so vital: “If you’ve got to believe in someone, don’t make that person me.” ‘Cathedrals Of The Mind’ and the title track are monumental affairs, and will hopefully provide some iPhones-aloft moments at the festivals of the future.
The catchy but bittersweet ‘Broken Eyes’ sounds like Elbow if they’d been fitted with Duracell batteries, while the driving guitar solo of ‘For Tomorrow’ and the yearning ‘Cycle Of Hurt’ wouldn’t seem out of place on a War on Drugs album, if Adam Granduciel had been born in the north-west of England rather than Massachusetts.
Like Guy Garvey’s gang and Granduciel’s mob, Doves’ songs aren’t always immediately arresting, and the likes of the quietly strident I Will Not Hide, complete with cascading guitar solo, or tentative closer ‘Forest House’ may take a fair few spins to work their charms but it’s well worth the wait. It’s not perfect; the so-so Mother Silverlake still sounds like a proggy b-side after more than a dozen outings. That aside, however, The Universal Want fills a pretty universal need for widescreen, achingly beautiful indie anthems. Welcome back.