Album Review: Doves – The Universal Want

The Universal Want

Doves return with their eagerly awaited new album ‘The Universal Want’ on 11th September.

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Doves bowed out in 2010 with a gig at the legendary Warehouse Project in Manchester. The band, mostly Jimi Goodwin always said it was a break from the scene and the whole album then tour cycle. In 2014, frontman and bassist Jimi Goodwin released his solo album ‘Odludek’ and then the following year, brothers Jez and Andy Williams released an album under the name Black Rivers. These releases made it much more unlikely that Doves would be returning anytime soon.

Late 2018 the announcement that we had all been waiting for came! Doves announced a gig at London’s Albert Hall for Roger Daltrey’s Teenage Cancer Trust series. After the announcement, more gigs and more festivals followed and now was the time to start getting excited, the band were fully back.

Following a very popular run of gigs, the news that we were wishing for came, Doves were to release a new album which we now know as ‘The Universal Want’.

Carousels‘ opens the album and was also the first track to be shared ahead of the release. The album version is longer than the single edit and is introduced with a Sci-fi inspired narrative which says, “The Universal Want” in different languages, this Sci-Fi interlude appears a number of times throughout the album. ‘Carousels‘ feels like a greatest hits tune, it has many of Doves signature elements throughout the running, leaving you with a warm fussy feeling. If you have had your wits about you, you would have also received a preview of this tune through Black Rivers Instagram account as the track was originally planned to be on Black Rivers‘ second album… A few more previews are still hidden on there.

Also shared ahead of release have been ‘Prisoners‘ and ‘Cathedrals of the Mind‘. ‘Prisoners‘ again gives that warm and fussy Doves nostalgia feeling, the lyrics can be intepritated in many different ways too, the main one being the Lockdown that the world has been under this year, “We’re just prisoners of  these times, although it won’t be for long, we’re just prisoners.” The other that comes to mind is that the track is about their return, with Jimi’s vocals during “Hello old friend, it’s been a while, it’s me again.” feeling like a warm hug from a familiar friend.

Cathedrals of the Mind‘ is a kaleidoscope of sound, the tune takes you a magical mystery tour of emotions. The track channels electo, sweet ballad, psychedelia and space jazz throughout the architecture of the layers. Jez Williams has said that tune will mean something different for everybody and to him it is about the loss of David Bowie. ‘Cathedrals of the Mind‘ is another track which was teased through Black Rivers Instagram account.

Broken Eyes‘ brings the hardest hitting moment on the album. The track is a self-reflection tale and does what Doves do brilliantly in bringing a bit doom to a huge chorus. With a laid back verse that is introduced by one of Jez William’s distinctive riffs, the chorus hears Jimi cry out, “I can’t love you if you don’t feel satisfied, you only ever looked at me through broken eyes.

For Tomorrow‘ comes next and feels like a direct reply the previous track. Both tunes are structured similarly but ‘For Tomorrow‘ is alot more positive in the lyrics whilst sounding darker musically, whereas ‘Broken Eyes‘  sounded more positive musically.

Mother Silverlake‘ provides a duet moment between Jez and Jimi. The tune kicks off with some familiar drumming from Andy Williams and some reverebed guitarwork, followed by Jimi adding to the rhythm before Jez’s disorienting vocals start to ring about. It is hard to figure out what is actually being sung and has you wondering if maybe some of the vocals are in reverse. Although written down this doesn’t sound great but it actually adds to the upbeat tune and makes it one of the most interesting on the album. Whilst you are lost in the track, getting dizzy, spinning around and around on a merry-go-round of craziness Jimi slams on the breaks and brings you back to earth with his vocals which are alot easier to hear and understand.  Again, this is track which stemmed from the Black Rivers album sessions and was teased on their social media.

The title track ‘Universal Want‘ follows on and is much needed after the previous track, a nice piano ballad… Or is it. The track is lead by unsung Doves hero and unofficial forth member Martin Rebelski’s piano work and Goodwin’s crooning vocals. The track builds and builds with more layers being added all the time, this isnt a piano ballad at all, it turns into a tune that is as structurally complicated has ‘Cathedrals of the Mind‘. The last two minutes gives us a band duel, Jimi, Jez, Andy and Rebelski all bouncing off and complimenting each others abilities with a crazy jam that ends with an Haçienda style outro which is a sure nod to the band’s Sub Sub days. This outro into ‘Spaceface’ during Doves live set will be nothing short of insane.

Finishing the album off with ‘Forest House‘, this is an isolation, kind of loner tune. Again pretty reflective of these times, but a lot more content rather than the positive ‘Prisoners‘. it’s a beautiful way to end the album. The tune has also been given away in the form of sheet music so that Doves fans can create the tune themselves without having listened yet.

‘The Universal Want’ is an incredible album to return with and it will be hard to find a better LP this year. The album has a feel of Doves first two albums (‘Lost Souls‘ & ‘The Last Broadcast‘) but this isn’t just the band sticking to a familiar formula, the album is fresh and captures past, present, future and even space travel in equal measures.

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