Looking back over the ‘tunes of the decade’ list so far, it seems awash with American songs; hardly surprising really as ‘the naughties’ have been a fairly one-sided affair, musically speaking. As the decade draws to a close, there seems to be little on the horizon that looks set to buck that trend. Whilst it is fun to extol the virtues of our cousins from across the pond, it is with great pleasure I write about the following band, album and song; Doves, ‘The Last Broadcast’, and ‘Pounding’. The song is a celebratory anthem and I don’t use this word lightly, as in the term “dance anthem”, I mean it in the literal sense of a patriotic, devotional song.
This song, indeed the whole album, stands out as a beacon of Britishness and all the positive connotations that word invokes. It doesn’t fall in to the all-too-easy-to-fall-into trap of being overly sentimental, nostalgic, or kitsch. It doesn’t celebrate mediocrity, rather it is visceral, life affirming, critical where it needs to be and joyous where you want it to be. So, why does this album succeed in painting an honest picture of Britain? Because it takes into account Britain – true Britain and its eclecticism. From the samba of “There Goes the Fear”, to the repatriation of King Crimson reworked in the über-British-titled “M62 Song” – what other nation would name a song after a motorway? There is even a more than vigorous nod the ‘States in, for me the album’s stand out track, “N.Y.” Interestingly, I heard an interview with Doves bass player and singer Jimi Goodwin where he intimated that the titular ‘New York’ was more of an idea – a concept of the metropolitan (and cosmopolitan) rather than the actual, physical place. This is probably a sentiment sadly lacking in modern British music, that idea of embracing and using cultural diversity to create something that (at least attempts to) represent the whole. Britain has, after all, always been a rich tapestry of cultures, nationalities and voices. To suggest there is a unifying ‘British voice’ in music maybe idealistic, naïve even – but unless it takes into account these legion voices, it will forever remain an impossibility.
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