The music is ace. It’s all true. But it’s easy, when you’re desperate, to get carried away. So let’s be gentle with the gentlemen of Doves, three mild-mannered geezers in terrifying receipt of the call-up papers to the treacherous plains of post-[a]Oasis[/a] Saviourdom, when what we have here is this year’s Shack, except younger, groovier, on 21st-century drugs.
Witness, then, Jimi Goodwin, a chunky, beardy ginge in bin-man chic with a lisp, and Andy Williams, a thin, beardy ginge in a T-shirt who looks like an electrician (possibly a very good one). They storm on, straight into ‘Catch The Sun’, where the unstoppable media ‘hype’ meets the immovable Portsmouth expectation, and the faith of the amassed ignites, immediately, albeit with a gustoriffic rock’n’roll pop tune with nil hint to the depth of the emotional panorama of their glorious debut LP.
Jimi and guitarist Andy alternate the singing; Jimi on ‘intense rock’ vocals, sometimes on drums, Andy on ‘Lightning Seeds’ vocals, sometimes on tambourine and the world’s most melancholically sublime mouth organ. “This is a call”, sings Andy on the Hammond swirl of ‘Here It Comes’, “A call to all/It goes out to all who’ve been there…”. “There”, it seems, is Manchester itself, literally or spiritually, as the music of Doves is the city’s sonic history unfolding, layer by spectacular layer. Which means, naturally, two things: it can only be ace and there’s something of an Identity Problem.
Early days, though, so for now the songs are everything, and right now, they’re being obliterated through a mesh of technical failure, the acoustic delicacies of the incandescent ‘Sea Song’, er, drowned enough for Jimi to blurt, Manchesterly, “Fookin’ ‘ell… that was pants!” Or, lisply, “That wath panth!”, but we think that’s mighty cute, don’t we girlth? Thigh…
If, in The Charlatans‘ way, Doves sing mostly about being Doves (technology now ‘sorted’, ‘The Man Who Told Everything’ yearns out as their Wasted Years autobiography theme tune), they’ve also the monastery-rock ambition of olden days Beta Band, the drama of The Verve and the epic preposterousness of The Champagne Supernova Effect. And how one man and his lisp can imbue the words from the mighty ‘The Cedar Room’ with the level of profundity Jimi naturally does, is miraculous; “I tried to sleep alone but I couldn’t do it/You could be sitting next to me and I wouldn’t know it/If I told you you was wrong I don’t remember saying/I don’t remember saying/I don’t remember saying…”. This is a man who fucked it up, and hasn’t forgotten what it felt like. Noel Gallagher has never been this honest in his entire lyrical life.
“This is your last chance, Portsmouth,” grins Jimi to the bemused/stunned spectators, “Jump up and down!” and you realise this is everything Embrace have always imagined themselves to be and how the proper, intense blokes’ psychedelic-sap-rock remains the most affecting rock’n’roll on earth. They’re called Doves, it’s obvious, it’s a freedom thang, you know.