no '...', all in proper english like
it's a review of the latest doves album....but have a read even if you don't dig on their music
i'm getting a bit tired and dissolusioned with the whole review scribbles...so any adivice on whether to keep plugging away or to let it lie would be appreciated.....you all know this shit inside out so i thought i'd ask for your opinion.
''Doves…Kingdom of Rust
Sukhdev Sandhu writes a short critique of Christopher Petit’s Radio On and cuts straight to the main themes. The film is declared, ‘a greyscale anthropology of a former colonial superpower finally sunk to it’s knees in numbed exhaustion’ which ‘…maps the radioactive landscapes of late 70’s England with a grim precision’. Its sparse central narrative sees a London DJ making the trip to Bristol to investigate his brother’s suicide and all along the black and white motorways, with Kraftwerk and Bowie on the tape deck, the protagonist turns his quiet eyes along the broken sights and strangers that mark his journey back to the beginning.
Doves Jimi Goodwin considers the role that place and environment have played in their albums to date. He decides that lead single Kingdom of Rust, with it’s metronomic sweep and skipping chorus, is ‘a bit of a road trip…it’s about going to see if the place where you grew up is still the same or going back to find someone or something you left behind. It’s about that trepidation of not being sure what you’re going to find’. These themes however, span much of the album. An album about moving to understand what you’ve just left behind, how the rain whipped conveyor belt landscapes can probe and poke at your state of mind, dust off long hidden memories, obfuscate some emotions and make others sharper, let you catch the faded colour of the land and the changing seasons all the while considering the people and places that you seek or have left behind. It’s about the constant flux of the journey, the fitful rhythm of the road, the repetition of the forward direction, the ever-present itch to escape or return; the guarantee that summer will fade to winter, and winter will gradually die out to spring.
So the first thing that hits is the almost relentless driving pulse and energy that surges through to the end. Jetstream sets the pace with the heaving whir of its iron lungs; a narrator stuck in slow motion, (‘tall machines wait in line…jets turn but make no sound…shining steel lost in time…seems I’ve waited here forever’), the rhythm rises and falls, building speed until it’s fit to fly. Like Kraftwerk on Trans Europe Express, there are instances through the album, especially in the opening trio, where sounds imitate the noise and the texture of the journey. Music ebbs and flows and builds and falls like motorway traffic, electronic and industrial sounds weave in and out; the bass howls and rasps like the ‘distant sound of thunder booming out on the moor’ until everything beats and builds and rattles along to the wandering engine.
Aforementioned single Kingdom of Rust, (I longed to feel some beauty in my heart, so I go searching, right to the start), is the albums greatest feat. The lyrics are an itch that the music urgently paws at until the sort of yearning chorus and soaring vocals that the band has made their trademark. The looming vibrations of guitar and string act as deft counterpoint to the buoyancy of the xylophone driven chorus, and when everything settles at a whisper before eruption again, hairs on the neck are standing alert and to attention. 10.03 begins as an exhausted affirmation to someone left behind (10.03 on a fast train, a trick of light…a skyward plane, calling out your name…oh I’m coming home) but eventually explodes into howling exultation, or possibly raging frustration. But it is the subtle balance these songs strike between tenderness and menace, screaming defiance or haggard listlessness that allows the album to beat out and shine.
Winter hill serves up another relationship cut adrift (wherever you go….I’ll see you back, I’ll see you back on winter hill), and the outsiders plays out like a defiant cry for a pair that have grown weary of their surroundings (Nothing to lose, So nothing gets lost, Just the two of us, Making fools of us, Wanna feel again, Kickin' our heels again).
Along with the songs about the people are the songs about the places, songs which paint a haunting backdrop of shadow and decay. The greatest denier is the first to hint at the bigger picture (an English skyline, falls down to the future, but no one noticed, in this empire….so go to sleep citizen, we’ll wake you when we’re done) and house of mirrors, with it’s ghostly snap and echo, provides another insidious atmosphere where the same memories and emotions can be played back at you like a scarred and repeating film reel. (Faces in the hallway, shadow on the ceiling, this chill is comin' my way, and your house is full of mirrors).
The only point at which the momentum breaks is on the slower paced birds flew backward, but coming in the middle of the album, it feels perfectly placed as a slower divide for two halves. But Spellbound follows and disappoints, the forward direction of the album feels stunted with its arrival and it brings about the albums only real low point. But the tired taste of spellbound is soon swept away by the sparkle of compulsion, a shady dance floor strut with flecks of dub and disco, it grinds and grooves along to get the album back on its feet.
The album closes with lifelines. After so many unsettled and uncertain songs, this is defiance in the face of daunting destruction, (Somebody’s giving in but I’m not…I’m just looking for my lifeline), and gives the album a trace of optimism, tired and battered optimism, but optimism nonetheless, a moment of light to balance out against the dark.
And so back to Sukhdev Sandhu and Radio On. He states that the picture of Britain in the film can only be matched by the novels of JG Ballard, ‘Gloomy high rise towers, threatening petrol forecourts, bleeping games arcades’, and the Ballard link is perhaps a pertinent one. Martin Amis remembers the recently departed author and says that ‘he kept asking: what effect does the modern setting have on our psyches- the motion sculpture of the highways, the airport architecture….the answer to that question is a perversity that takes various mental forms, all of them extreme’. There is perversity in this kingdom of rust, but never taken to the extremes of Ballard. People are stretched and provoked and haunted by the ominous landscape; but there is still a lone stretch of light reaching through the windscreen. People could scoff at the reference to Ballard; whine that any similarities are basic at best. But the point is, that’s because this is still a Doves album. They don’t try and ‘do krautrock’ by stealing a riff, they don’t feed us the state of the nation with turgid agit-prop, they don’t seek new musical tricks by cutting out any resemblance to their past, they don’t hint at authors by using their books for song titles. What they have done is subtly venture towards new lyrical and musical themes whilst still retaining the core identity that has developed over previous albums. And this sort of progression should be praised and valued more than it ever usually is.''