The Big Music – with its views from high mountain tops, its voyages of deep oceans and its blurry Super 8 footage of the band walking moodily and in corduroy across a gritty urban doomscape – is here again. Reset the compass. Get in a larger map. Waterproof your soul and get ready to feel huge.
High like a mountain, deep like an ocean and long like Bertrand Russell‘s [I]A History Of Western Philosophy[/I] are Doves and they come hotfoot from the Vale Of Tears. C’mon lads, pack up your troubles! Heads bowed over their acoustic guitars, Doves begin to emote through epic tales of woe, their hooded tops flapping in an imagined doleful breeze. This is Doves‘ great power. Doves could bring a doleful breeze to Ibiza.
A funny turn of events all told, as Doves have in the past not so much stood on the shoulders of giants as lurked hopefully near their ankles and then collaborated with some people of a dealably ordinary size. These fellas were last seen as Badly Drawn Boy‘s backing band and before that, at the start of the ’90s, as Sub Sub, whose ‘Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)’ was a cred and massive dance hit. Somewhere after that, though, the giantism took hold, they swapped their high times for comedowns, their top ones for snide ones and set out to find greatness.
Their aim is certainly true, without even having to hear a note they play. Behind the group, projections juxtapose them with things of sufficiently monumental power. Long roads. Sky. Then they start with the fire, and you get it. Doves don’t just want to be cool, they want to be elemental. They want people to hear their records, go out and try to control the weather.
Their appearance is slightly workaday and their demeanour is affable chapability, but musically, all is in place. What they do is long, but it is great. Doves treat chords like they’re not sure whether to end their relationship with them: they let them go eventually, but only after a good deal of thinking about it. It’s slow and painful, but the whole joy-waded-in-sorrow business is pretty amazing. There’s the single ‘Sea Song’ for a start, and the excellent ‘Catch The Sun’, reminiscent not just of recent greats like The Verve, but of slightly older ones like Talk Talk.
The best song they have though, is called ‘Cedar Room’ and it’s effectively one big moan. It’s the song Noel should have written for the next Oasis album: it lasts a good eight minutes, and as it plays we journey with the group in blurry Super 8 down an open American road.
You know where you are out here. In God’s Country. The Big Country.