Review: Doves - The Universal Want (2020)
Written By Edward Wallace • Staff Writer
The guitars swirl and the drums pound like a flock of birds taking flight in a John Woo battle. After an 11-year hiatus, the cats from Cheshire, England have reappeared with a fifth album wonderland of dreamy shoegaze hymns.
The Doves' original line-up is intact: twin brothers Jez Williams (guitar, vocals) and Andy Williams (drums, vocals), and Jimi Goodwin (bass, vocals, guitar).
The September 11th release date carries weight. It was in early 2002, that their greatest and sophomore album The Last Broadcast, spoke to that zeitgeist in ways only the likes of U2 could muster. In this equally uncertain pandemic era, The Universal Want once again concerns our common struggles, while taking us back to simpler, better times with retro sound. It hits a sweet spot, less depressing than Radiohead, less sappy than Coldplay.
"Cathedrals of the Mind" searches for a lost friend, perhaps God, gentle vocals, metronome ambiance, blending to a Civil Rights sample. "Prisoners," in the context of quarantine, faces death as a release from a cell of “dusty halls, hollow shopping malls, and endless rows of English roses,” to mind-bending psychedelic rock. "Carousels" likewise cries for release from a life of repetition, finding solace in love. "Broken Eyes" regrets a shattered relationship. The upbeat rhythms of "I Will Not Hide" contrast with defiant lyrics, “Will you forgive me for questioning your asking price?” "For Tomorrow" looks beyond the pain with heartbeat, sci-fi Blade Runner funk.
All of the tunes are winners. The title track slows down to put things in context with deep reverberations.
Hardcore Doves followers will hear the influence of the Williams brothers' psychedelic side project, Black Rivers. Recommend for old-school fans of Pink Floyd and devotees of Tame Impala and The Helio Sequence. Geekosity comic-book and video-game buffs will find the mysterious melodies and lyrics a perfect fit to play over their imaginative ventures.
And here are the 2021 tour dates if you're lucky enough to be in the UK: