It’s always struck me a strange thing to pity the stars, those who get to make their livelihood doing what they love, but when it comes to the Doves, it becomes a little more understandable. While hardly lingering in obscurity, they’ve never made the jump into the mainstream, Metro Arena world that’s been predicted for them even since ‘Lost Souls’ back in 2000. Well, it’s 2009 now, and perhaps inspired by the Elbow have been clasped to the nation’s collective bosom in the last year, they’re back with the first single and title track from their fourth album, ‘Kingdom of Rust’.
Yes yes, all well and good…but how does it actually sound? It’s in possession of the same driving beats and yearning vocals the Doves have always possessed, but there’s a distinct rockabilly-via-Alex-Turner sensibility to the verse that doesn’t entirely befit the band. When the strings kick in though, it’s immediately evident that they get Scott Walker a damn sigh better than the aforementioned Alex and his mate ever have, and the song slowly morphs into the kind of stampeding epic that they’ve always excelled at. Although not at the same level as career highlight “There Goes The Fear”, the track’s very much an extension of the post-millennial angst of its parent album ‘The Last Broadcast’, with only the occasional nod of the head to the changes in the rock landscape since 2005’s ‘Some Cities’. It’s a good tune alright, but unlike – and apologies for bringing them up again, but it’s just too good a comparison to avoid – Elbow’s comeback “Grounds for Divorce”, it doesn’t quite go for the jugular in the way that Doves perhaps need to right now. “Kingdom of Rust” is bound to find a place in the heart of any Doves fan, but sadly their brand of populist ambition seems set to appeal only to the converted in the age of landfill indie. Sigh.
Review by Mark Corcoran-Lettice