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- Doves »
You can smell it. The sticky, faintly doughy smell of mediocrity. On record Doves have an odd, finely-balanced grace – clumsily elegant, the thumping rhythm sections provide an emotionally effective contrast to the delicate melodies. All this and more is completely discarded when Doves take to the stage at Brixton. These songs become beery anthems, rattled out cheerfully and blandly. Jimi Goodwin’s voice, weak but melancholic and lilting during songs like “There Goes The Fear”, is drowned out by plodding bass drums and joyless, directionless guitar strumming.
The problem is that Doves depend upon their subtleties – just the right chord in just the right place, a slight lift on Goodwin’s voice during the usually rich and heartstopping “Pounding” when he sings “Let’s leave at sunrise, let’s live by the ocean” – and it all gets swallowed up in the cavernous void of the Brixton Academy stage. Even “The Cedar Room”, the gorgeous, reproachful debut that put Doves on the map on in the first place, becomes another mindless choon, roared by the masses and heard by no-one; they quicken the pace on it until it becomes a rollicking marching-band tune. Is this what this song was intended for? Is any of this what Doves set out to create?
Listen to their best records and there’s a genuine yearning sense of beauty enveloping them; this is a band that want to make something out of nothing, that want to make people cry without even realising at first why the tears are sliding like glaciers down their cheeks. But live they just haven’t yet developed the flair to make these songs translate to a show this size; it’s proof positive that any band that’s sold enough records can book the Brixton Academy and fill it with people, but not many can fill it with sound and emotion and atmosphere. In a few years they might play the most beautiful gig they’ve ever played on this very same stage; for now, it’s back to the drawing board.
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