Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Birds Flew Backwards
Review of Doves' Kingdom Of Rust
doves.netConsistency is no great fault, particularly when the standard that one rarely fails to meet is as high as it is for Britain’s Doves. For nearly a decade, since their 2000 debut Lost Souls, the trio has turned out an album of classic-sounding, widescreen, melancholic space-rock every few years, each of which manages to expand and build on that which came before to some degree, but never coming up with the watershed record, the game-changer, the quantum leap forward. Some might argue that Lost Souls was that record, one so fully-realized right out of the gate that we should be thankful they’ve managed to maintain that level of quality and to an extent, that’s true. Not one of their albums have been a misstep, each rich with equal parts yearning emotion, musical textures and fist-pumping anthemicism, but even so there’s a risk in feeling too familiar.
Their latest, Kingdom Of Rust, perhaps even despite their best efforts, feels just that familiar. To their credit, they do go out of their way to incorporate new influences into their sound – the motorik rhythms of “Jetstream”, the country-western gallop of the title track, the scorching psych-rock of “House Of Mirrors” – but by the time they’re done with it, they’ve been so effectively absorbed by the band’s own personality that the finished pieces still feel Mancunian grey and simply Doves-ish. On the plus side, being Doves-ish means there’s at least a couple of spectacular moments – in this case, the soaring “Winter Hill” is the album standout – and not really any glaring weak spots. But I can’t help feeling I’ve heard this all before.
There’d been some speculation before the record’s release that given the breakout year their compatriots in Elbow had in 2008, that this might be the year that another band of never-too-fashionable northerners got their due. I still hold out hope that that’ll happen someday, but I don’t think Kingdom Of Rust is the record to do it. It’s a good record and a fine addition to the Doves discography, successful at adding further depth an detail to the musical world that Doves have already created, but doesn’t extend its boundaries. It’s pretty much exactly the record that long-time fans were probably expecting, and sometimes what you’re expecting isn’t what you actually want.
PopMatters has an interview with Doves and NME TV has a chat with the band on video. Q gets the band to offer thoughts on each of their albums – Lost Souls, The Last Broadcast, Some Cities and Kingdom Of Rust. Doves are at the Kool Haus in Toronto on June 1.
State has an interview with Carey Lander and The Village Voice with Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, latest recipient of the Pitchfork “Best New Music” honour for My Maudlin Career. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 27.
Artrocker goes behind the scenes of Sky Larkin’s latest video for “Antibodies”. Their debut The Golden Spike was supposed to be out domestically in North America by now, but apparently “technical difficulties” are holding that up some. No idea what the problem is – the CDs they had in the UK turned out fine. They just need to ship a few boxes of those over here posthaste.
I remember when people were all excited about M83 FINALLY came to town for the first time… Now they’re back for their fourth show in a year. Kinda less special. Look for them at the Phoenix on July 17.
NxNE has revealed a few more of the names set to play the festival this June 18 through 20.
But I suppose the biggest reveal yesterday was the fact that Virgin Festival is indeed coming back to Ontario for a fourth year (and also to Calgary and BC, apparently)- but you’ll note I said Ontario and not Toronto. I already knew that this year’s edition wasn’t happening at the Toronto Islands, but I’d assumed that meant Downsview Park. Nope. Try Burl’s Creek between Barrie and Orillia, an hour north of the city. That’s right – August 29 and 30 way up in cottage country – first reported at Consequence Of Sound and confirmed by myself through folks who know. I suppose this is actually keeping in the V Fest tradition, after all the UK editions in Chelmsford and Staffordshire are hardly in the hearts of any burgeoning metropolises, but then the British have an established tradition of traveling to and camping out at outdoor festivals. Over here? Not so much. So whereas my attendance at the first three were gimmes – festival a 10 minute bike ride from home? sure! – this one is far from it. I’m not a camper by any definition so there’s a whole issue of lodging to be dealt with on top of the transportation – I have not-so-fond memories of sitting for hours in traffic on the 400 up to Molson Park way back in the day – and that’s not even mentioning the prospects of being devoured by insects and/or bears. I’m going to reserve final judgment until I see the actual lineup – which should be soon – but it’s going to have to be pretty damned impressive.