Doves – The Last Broadcast

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Album Review by Kris Griffiths

THE LAST BROADCAST is the most optimistic thing we’ve ever written. And it’s nothing like U-fucking-2 at all.” Jez Williams, April 2002

This quote from Doves’ guitarist, uttered a couple of weeks before the album’s release, strikes me as a bit strange for two reasons. Firstly, the only other album Doves have ever written was the first one – the Mercury Music Prize nominated LOST SOULS – and I still can’t really discern any notable upward movement in optimism from first to second. Secondly, the first time I heard the new single – THERE GOES THE FEAR – I thought to myself how similarly the guitars in the chorus echo the guitar style of The Edge from U2. How strange.

This may sound like I’m about to slate the band and their new album but nothing could be further from the truth – I was merely questioning the wisdom of Jez’s words. The album is actually a momentous achievement and the first single is a corker. Evoking the bouncing jollity of fellow Mancunians The Stone Roses circa WATERFALL, the song is a timely reminder that British Indie music is alive and well, with the rest of the album serving as weighty testimony to this.

Straight after …THE FEAR comes M62 SONG, an acoustic little beauty reworked from an old King Crimson number. The track was actually recorded beneath a Manchester flyover, whilst the rest of the album was conceived at various spots around England: Liverpool, London, Bath and a little cottage in Lancashire. The resulting sound is a departure from the claustrophobia of LOST SOULS, recorded in one confined room, yet retaining its veiled warmth.

Any flickers of miserabilism are battered into the ground by the incessant drumbeat and choral euphoria of track nine, POUNDING, which in my eyes is the album’s defining opus. The final three songs, including the title track, gently descend into the horizon like a shimmering sunset. They are picturesque landscape moments.

THE LAST BROADCAST was recorded in only twelve months, minus two in which Doves toured the USA with The Strokes, along the way acquiring the significant tag of ‘the new Radiohead’. Indeed, like Thom Yorke and co, with their transition from PABLO HONEY to THE BENDS, the tricky-second-album-syndrome has been crumpled and blown into outer space. And as their music sweeps through the meadows of British summertime, the Doves can swoop and soar above it all knowing they’ve created something beautiful.

5 stars