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Lost Souls , 7/10
Last Broadcast , 6.5/10
Some Cities (2005), 5/10
Kingdom of Rust (2009), 7/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Jez and Andy Williams and Jimi Goodwin rode the "Madchester" wave under the moniker Sub Sub, armed with electronic keyboards and drum-machines (Ain't No Love, 1993).

Towards the end of the decade, they renamed themselves Doves and replaced the keyboards with the traditional rock instruments. Lost Souls (Heavenly, 2000) was a collection of slow, mellow ballads in the vein of the Smiths arranged in a more baroque and psychedelic manner: the desolate lullaby of Lost Soul, the carillon-like refrain of Melody Calls, the oneiric confession of Break Me Gently, the metaphysical meditation of The Man Who Told Everything, and Rise, enveloped in a shower of cosmic reverbs. Best was the dilated elegy over breezy guitar strumming, shapeless chanting and evocative electronic drones of Sea Song, more in the line of Cocteau Twins's dream-pop than the Smiths' folk-pop. Further pushing that envelop, the eight-minute The Cedar Room radiates shimmering psychedelic effects reminiscent of the "Madchester" sound, and flows with a grace and a majesty that "are" meaning in themselves. And when one returns to the opening instrumental overture of Firesuite it is hard not to picture that this could be the Doors cleaned up after their last overdose.

More whining and trepidation permeate Last Broadcast (Capitol, 2002), the album gave them the number-one spot on the British charts thanks to impeccable orchestrations (the sense of whirlwind created by the circular guitar pattern in Words, the sense of tragedy crafted by the vehement riff and King Crimson-ian walls of electronic keyboards in N.Y., the atmosphere of nightmare created by the warped chamber arrangements of Friday's Dust) and captivating refrains (Pounding, Sulphur Man). However, these songs have a bit too much melodrama, and sometimes they "only" have melodrama (the lengthy Satellites and Caught By The River). Perhaps the most disorienting song of the batch, Last Broadcast brilliantly balances a static chant with a trotting rhythm, country-ish finger-picking and floating female vocals. The seven-minute There Goes The Fear borrows the rhythm from country-rock but couples it with a hummable guitar refrain that seems to contrast the relatively plain vocal melody.

Some Cities (Capitol, 2005) strips down the Doves' sound without completely denying the radio-friendly ambitions. Nonetheless, the songs now appear faceless. Even Walk In Fire and Black and White Town (yet another danceable beat with loud guitars and languid wailing) are hardly a match for There Goes The Fear.

Kingdom of Rust (Astralwerks, 2009) stands as a summary of their skills. There are otherworldly languid dreamy chants such as Jetstream, disguised as a dancefest with a mutating rapid-fire beat, and The Greatest Denier, derailed by a fast tempo and loud guitars.
There are unpredictable dynamics in 10:03, a ballad that executes an odd transition from David Bowie-esque pathos to a psychedelic mantra with soaring guitars, and especially in Compulsion, that weaves an inventive dialog of drums, bass and guitars, replete with elements of dub, jazz and new wave, like a soup of Material, Raybeats and Contortions, and with vocals that range from Sting-style smoothness to Syd Barrett-ian psychedelic shout.
Their "faux retro" style (creative albeit classic arrangements) is showcased by several songs: Kingdom of Rust (the album's standout), a country and western yarn with "slapping" rhythm, ringing guitars and soaring mellotron lines, the visceral The Outsiders, boasting staccato strumming (reminiscent of Glenn Branca's guitar symphonies), tribal drumming (reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's jams) and booming lead guitar (reminiscent of Led Zeppelin), and Winter Hill, a grand U2-style aria (albeit trivial by their standards).
Out of the blue, there appears also the disjointed hard-rocking charge of the post-psychedelic House of Mirrors, with guitars all over the audio range, releasing a solemn refrain.

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