Doves - Kingdom of Rust
Review by Jack Foley
THERE are emphatic returns and then there are mercurial comebacks. Doves’ Kingdom of Rust is both an emphatic re-underlining of their brilliance and a mercurial collection of songs.
If Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid has been [deservedly] sweeping all before it in the awards stakes over recent months, then prepare for Doves to pick up the slack.
Kingdom of Rust is a sonically adventurous collection of 11 songs that are, by turns, intimate, cerebral, rhythmic and electric.
Recorded over the course of the past 18 months with long-time collaborator Dan Austin, as well as John Leckie (on two tracks), this is a barnstormer in every respect and, arriving in the wake of the latest masterpiece from Gomez, another surefire 5 out of 5 listen.
Album opener Jetstream gets things underway in supremely confident fashion and the album never looks back. As an opening salvo, it’s quite brilliant – brooding and atmospheric to begin with, it then explodes to dazzling life with elements of kraut motorik and a distinct Kraftwerk influence, mixing synth flourishes with a melodic guitar riff.
Title track Kingdom of Rust follows, unfolding with a rhythm section that Johnny Cash would have been proud to call his own, and then adding another brilliant electronic bed and even some Ennio Morricone inspired, Spaghetti western flourishes.
The Outsiders, meanwhile, opens with a foreboding, dark electronic loop before drawing on a grungy guitar riff and some insistent loops to really lay down a rousing foot-stomper, and Winter Hill drops cascading, beautiful guitar riffs over an anthemic stadium filling rock effort.
The Tom Rowlands (Chemical Brothers) arranged 10.03 is a slow-builder that trades haunted, vaguely echoed vocals with slow-building electronic flourishes and layered vocals to beguiling effect – before then unleashing a fierce rhythm section and rousing guitar work around the two and a half minute mark to blow you off your feet sonically.
Elsewhere, you can marvel at the intricate guitar layering of The Greatest Denier, or the haunting intimacy of Birds Flew Backwards, before Spellbound whisks you away on its lush blend of acoustic riffs and plugged in melody. It’s the sort of offering that Coldplay fans should easily warm to… as well as Elbow followers.
Compulsion changes tack yet again, meanwhile, with a successful homage to the wonky-leftfield disco of the ’80s and an entirely new sound for the album, while the epic House of Mirrors explodes to life in what must be one of the most rousing indie-rock anthems of the year. It’s utterly addictive and a real shot in the arm, coming so late.
Lifelines draws things to a close in masterly fashion to confirm that Doves are back with a vengeance.
After hearing Kingdom of Rust, they really cannot be ignored or written off. It’s one of the albums of the year.
Download picks: Jetstream, Kingdom of Rust, Winter Hill, Compulsion, House of Mirrors, 10.03, Spellbound