When Doves announced new single ‘Prisoners’ in early July this year, it formed – alongside ‘Carousels’ – the band’s first release for eleven years. Casting my mind back to 2009, I could think of absolutely nothing that happened that year; not even a failed attempt at bringing home a national sporting trophy. I took a moment to fondly remember (or not) just how nice it was to live through a less turbulent age where Black-Eyed Peas were the height of pop. Simpler times. Then, after some further Googling, I was confronted with the fact that, on 11thJune 2009, the swine-flu outbreak was deemed a global pandemic by WHO. History has a curious tendency to repeat itself…
But despite the success of their previous releases, Doves have higher ambitions than to simply repeat themselves. The Northerners are keen for new album The Universal Want – out on the 11th September – to represent a fresh start, as vocalist Jez Williams informed Steve Lamacq. Nonetheless, patient fans who stuck with the group will be relieved that the same qualities which characterised the band’s earlier outputs have not faded over time. Williams’ northern husk remains the driving force to a pounding indie soundtrack. But it’s a team effort, and the track’s instrumental accompaniment arguably takes the spotlight on ‘Prisoners’. There’s plenty of it, too. Orchestral violins set the pulse racing, before a groovy bassline and guitar rhythm heighten the tempo. There’s even room in the final third for an old-school electric guitar solo.
It certainly feels, as Jez notes, that the track is “an echo of what we were going through” at the time of making the record. There’s a familiar feeling of urgency, reminiscent of a group itching to perform in front of sweaty audiences again. A pressing desire when the band began recording the new album two years ago, it hits with even greater fervour in the current gig-less climate. Topical, self-aware lyricism aids this impression. “It won’t be long” echoes the song’s final refrain. Amongst a body of lyrics which dwell on the melancholy of unfulfilled desires, there’s a closing expression of hope. With a knowing “hello old friend”, Doves are back, and though it’s certainly “been a while”, we can find comfort in their return.
History might repeat itself, (and the group may hope it does, given that Kingdom of Rust entered the charts at number two) but with their latest record Doves look set to break new ground.
Words by Adam Goldsmith