Kingdom of Rust
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2009, Volume 16, #6
Written by John Metzger
Tue June 23, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
No one would mistake Doves for being anything other than a British band. This, perhaps, might explain why the group has been unable to garner the same level of attention on this side of the Atlantic as it has in the U.K. While crafting its latest endeavor Kingdom of Rust, Doves resisted the urge to tinker too much with its tried-and-true formula. In fact, most of the stylistic changes that fuel the outing occur beneath the surface of the material. Unfortunately, in the four-year span that has separated Kingdom of Rust from its predecessor Some Cities, Doves also hasnít grown nearly as much as it should have. Consequently, the ensemble once again has failed to create an album that is anything more than superficially compelling.
Still, there is no use in denying how ambitious Doves appears to be. With Kingdom of Rust, the band continues to build its songs in layers, sculpting them from towering arrangements that are designed to fill the immense spaces of outdoor amphitheaters and arenas. Even more than before, there are textural currents that run through Dovesí work, such as the melted disorientation that greets the lovesick trek home outlined in 10:03 and the floating, Cure-like ambience that surrounds The Greatest Denier. Elsewhere, Doves laces the title track with a galloping groove that musically ponders how The Smiths might have fared as a country band.
Almost in spite of the groupís playful, spirited adventurousness, however, Kingdom of Rust ultimately suffers from Dovesí inability to make its material truly transcendent. A big part of the problem lies with its melodies, which just arenít terribly insistent. The dance-beat grooves of Jetstream recall those that drove the material on U2ís Pop. Yet, without Bonoís flair for capturing the dramatic, emotional aspects that are so integral to the finest specimens from the R&B genre, the song sounds cold, detached, and unequivocally tedious. Likewise, the funky rhythms of Compulsion are undercut by the lack of passion in Dovesí delivery, and although Birds Flew Backwards strives to mark the changing seasons, it is too claustrophobic for its intimate reflections to succeed.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect about Kingdom of Rust is that on every track it seems as if Doves is on the verge of finding its footing. Yet, it never does. The urgency of Spellbound, for example, is sparked by a winding, twisting guitar solo. Hints of XTC-derived pop lurk inside the churning air of Winter Hill, and The Outsiders anchors its heady, Pink Floyd-ian swirl with a forcefully determined march of drums. There is no doubt that if Doves tempered the complex nature of its material, it would be able to compete with Coldplay on the world stage. To its credit, it also is quite apparent that the band has no desire to achieve this feat. If only it could find a way of drawing upon either Radioheadís hypnotic allure or Kaiser Chiefsí sense of fun, Doves very well could live up to its potential.
Of Further Interest...
Kingdom of Rust is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2009 The Music Box