Sound: "Some Cities" is the third album by a Manchester-based band Doves. As everybody knows Coldplay and only a few know Doves, here's a little introduction: that's a three-piece (singer/bassist Jimi Goodwin and multi-instrumentalist brothers Andy and Jez Williams) band, playing moody organic dance music with a touch of dreampop. The band got famous for it's large epic sound, being compared to Radiohead, Travis, and Coldplay. Doves released a debut album "Lost Souls" in 2000. The second record came two years after -? "Last Broadcast" reached #1 in UK album chart. The single from the album "There Goes The Fear" climbed up #3 in the UK singles chart. So, after three years here's a new record. "Some Cities" was released in February 2005 and went straight to #1 in the UK album charts, preceded by the single "Black And White Town," which reached #6 in the UK singles chart. It was recorded between Liverpool's Parr Street Studios (where Coldplay have completed their third album) and Fort Augustus in Loch Ness. That Highland flavor appeared to be a major influence on the direction of the album.
"Some Cities" has a lot of heavy club rhythms and, comparing to it's predecessors, has more basic guitar rock sound, though there still is a place for Doves' symphonic sound. They managed to pair crunchy guitars and classical strings and make it sound organic. A couple of songs are rock-n-roll with mashed drums -? like "Black And White Town" and "Sky Starts Falling" -? the kind of "crazy happiness" when you went insane after feeling endless pain. Others are very mellow, with muffled piano, picturing images of dirge in your mind.
Most of the songs are not too bad to puke, listening to them, but they go by as if there's just some weird monotonous sound in your ears, leaving you with no impression at all. Though there are three tracks on the album, leaving me with a question -? are they played by the same band? Those are surprisingly good and create a certain mood. First one -? groovy "The Storm" is highlighted by a forlorn harp solo. Languid waves of strings in the song are wonderful -? the way they start quiet and then get louder, just for a second. Another two -? morose, piano-driven "Shadows Of Salford" and phenomenal "Sky Starts Falling," which has a great arrangement. I also enjoyed "Walk In Fire" for its galloping drum beat and some catchy guitar hooks. The closing track, a huge sweeping ballad "Ambition" was recorded only for three hours inside a Benedictine Monastery. You can actually define the all-natural reverb in the song. // 6
Lyrics: Have you ever heard what a cat sounds like when somebody's pulling him by the balls? I haven't either, but I have a strong suspicion, that it should be very much alike Jimi Goodwin's singing. You know, vocalists usually have five notes, which they are most comfortable to sing. Others are a bit more difficult to hit. And even Goodwin's vocals are intimate and strong and sometimes it feels like he's singing right into your ear, but most of the songs on the album are within those five notes, which sounds very boring at times. The band has to compensate that with more adventurous instrumentals. The exception is the tracks I already wrote about -? "The Storm" and "Shadows Of Salford" -? they are sung by Jez Williams and the difference is obvious. What saves other songs are gospel-like backing vocals.
When it comes to lyrics, they are either too deep and I don't always get them, or they're just dull. Goodwin moans about live changed with frustration. The truth comes with the last song -- in "Ambition" Goodwin sings "Ain't a love that's perfect/everybody knows it/ambition cuts us down." A very optimistic fitting end to the album. // 6
Overall Impression: On the new album Doves sound like a more focused band. Even though musically it's extremely well-done, bud except little sparks of life, music is completely without colors at all, which is perfectly faced by the sleeve -? in black and white colors, which mixes to become dull grey. I couldn't stop looking at the CD booklet and wonder -? why does it look so cheesy? It's not only cheap, it's ridiculously awful. Seems like the designer did it for two hours at night, being desperate to get some sleep.
For some reasons, listening to the album, I had all kinds of weird pictures in my head, like death when you're sleeping -- it's not your will and it's so depressive, but it's such a pleasure when you're falling down to nowhere. Another one -- like when they show people drowning in the movie -? that moment, when it's clear that the guy's gonna die and you see him under the water with eyes and mouth half closed, unwillingly going down. Being a very optimistic and impressive person myself, I didn't dare to listen to the album before going to sleep -? otherwise I risked to have nightmares all night. Doves have an amazing ability to make the listener depressed by just listening to their music. If you're looking to something to die for, choose Radiohead's "Kid A" instead, the last one is at least a masterpiece. // 6