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Lost Souls

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Lost Souls

Artist: Doves
Genre: Rock
Release Date: October 2000

Review by LarryG
2½ stars out of 4

Doves are among the bands that have benefitted from the British pop audience's shift in interest from Beatlesque guitar bands like Oasis and Blur to mellower, more atmospheric music. Doves' music is more dreamlike and less poppy than Travis' or Coldplay's. They bring to mind 80s synth bands like Tears For Fears and Ultravox, making music that's serious with an interesting ambience but not always very compelling.

Doves establish their personality from the start of Lost Souls with the leisurely, spacy instrumental Firesuite. The music and lyrics of Here It Comes are meant to be terribly meaningful with Jimi Goodwin sending his tale of romantic deception "out to those who've been bad." Melody Calls is a little cutesy in Goodwin's rock star delivery and its overly poppy backing vocals but its tale of a girl living in the musical world in her head could be about the band's philosophy: "a melody calls, loops around." Reprise rehashes and repeats a riff that had become tedious the first time around. A few songs on Lost Souls remind me of Tears For Fears' slow, intense songs. Sea Song has a sweep of serious keyboards for its tale of a drive "to the place you won't believe." Strings are meant to add tension to The Man Who Told Everything, a lugubrious tale of a man preparing to tell a secret that will apparently benefit him but wreck the lives of others. You can sing "shout, shout let it all out" over much of The Cedar Room. The Cedar Room does have a good, intense feel, benefitting from Doves' willingness to let a song take its time to grow. Jez Williams' strumming continues to slowly build as Goodwin mournfully tries to remember what went wrong in a relationship.

Lost Souls is often quite cool. The CD has an appealingly leisurely pace. Doves are more concerned with creating a rich soundscape than seeking rock and roll energy. Break Me Gently has distorted vocals and a good I'm Not I'm Love style spacy atmosphere. Rise takes the time to immerse the audience in a sound which matches the lyrics about drowning yourself in a sea of love. The title track is the best use of Doves' patient style, floating around until it reaches a gorgeous climax. Andy Williams drumming is as insistent as it's going to get. Jez Williams' guitar is filtered and processed to match the hallucinogenic sound.

Amid all the spaciness, Catch The Sun's is especially welcome. Catch The Sun shows Doves can make a tight, compelling U2 style soaring rocker. Jez ably deploys the guitar's thrill producing potential. He evokes The Who and New Order as he mixes a big, sweeping sound with piercing guitar lines. A House is also a refreshing change from the CD's usually big, often empty sound. It keeps the atmospherics to a minimum and has an almost Springsteen like stark acoustic guitar simplicity as Goodwin sings about learning from his mistakes.

I'd prefer it if Lost Souls had more rock and roll breaks from its generally very intense, dense, slow arrangements and a little more energy. Lost Souls has a number of stunning, beautiful songs that have a compelling moodiness. Jez Williams' use of his guitars in mixing with keyboards and creating rich soundscapes is often breathtaking. But many of the songs are draggy, rather than leisurely. Goodwin's singing can be heavy and humorless. The sameness and dreaminess can make Lost Souls almost seem like it's fading away but it almost always works as lush background music.

Review by Mark Fleming
4 stars out of 4

Jez Williams (guitar), Jimi Goodwin (vocals, bass, samples) and Andy Williams (drums, harmonica) are the Doves, and they are responsible for 'Lost Souls', a debut album of achingly-strong rock music. The tunes are deceptive, at times sparse. Perhaps a basic rhythm or subdued guitar lick is all it takes to set one musical idea off in motion; by the time the song is rocketing towards its conclusion it has become a multi-textured wonder. Vocals collide, melodies waft in and out, and Andy William's harmonica provides a soulful refrain. It is very difficult to select a stand-out from the 12 tracks, although the sweeping majesty of 'Rise', with its singular bass hook, provides one mesmerizing high point, closely followed by the title track, 'Lost Souls', simply a heartbreakingly effective piece of music.

Doves are an exciting band who obviously trace their lineage back beyond Punk to the likes of Velvet Underground, via the 80's starkness of pre-Dance New Order, to the potent force they are today. But saddling them with comparisons or pre-conceived ideas is unfair. 'Lost Souls' is wonderfully melodic, biting and relevant music in its own right. Guitars, electric and acoustic, swirling Hammond organs, harmonized voices, harmonicas and samples all weave a hypnotic spell. Despite the off-key melancholia hinted at in certain songs, there are many, many tunes which will leave you whistling long after listening. The title of the CD may be 'Lost Souls', but play this and you will discover that Doves have Soul in spades.



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