Listening to the Doves is like watching a British film: The words only make sense when you listen really, really hard. And with singer Jimi Goodwin lost even more in the mix than on their previous two looong-players, their new Some Cities is chock full of lyrics begging for comedic interpretation. For “Someday Soon,” how about “someday soon you’ll know how it feels to fluff someone”?
Fluff indeed: Bogged in reverb tanks, delays, and other swirly effects, Some Cities‘ production masks their slovenly musicianship as Goodwin grapples with poor self-esteem in “Almost Forgot Myself” and works hard to channel Lennon from the grave in “Shadows of Salford.” “The Storm” is the piss on Thom Yorke’s sheets after a hellish nightmare; “One of These Days” is not a Pink Floyd cover.
But they do get close to emulating Sir Roger Waters. In “Walk on Fire” (as in The Last Broadcast‘s “Satellites”), the trio bring in some soul backup divas to warm their corpse-cold tunes. (Listen closely, and maybe you’ll hear.) Embarrassing not only in its attempt to employ urban voices to prove the album’s hackneyed thesis about, well, how strange some cities (in this case, only Britannia’s) can be, but because it reveals the Pink Floydian provincialism they admire.
Luckily, the Doves play their Mr. Blue Sky card on the second-to-last track. (The closer, titled “Ambition,” is anything but ambitious.) On the demo-ish “Sky Starts Falling,” guitars whirl into a Chicken Little-greets-Thurston Moore frenzy, the snare hacks through the mix like a frigid rain, and Goodwin sounds clear and focused, secure in his insecurity. All it took were two albums and nine tracks to successfully howl through the fog.
The Doves play Webster Hall May 18 and 19.