April 21, 2009
Kingdom of Rust
2009 | Astralwerks/Heavenly
It’s been a while since we last heard from Manchester boys, Doves – which is a shame since, as a part of the Radiohead fallout that hit Britpop in the early 2000s, along with Travis, Starsailor, Elbow, and Coldplay, they were always one of the more interesting bands. As former DJs, they always had fun ways of playing with sound, adding a nice kaleidoscope view to the grandiose, sweeping pop that dominated the scene. And while their colors faded slightly on their more somber album, Some Cities, their new LP, Kingdom of Rust, offers a balance of styles, with songs that are full of bright texture, yet still remain grounded.
The result, however, is nothing revolutionary, and yields a set of fairly straightforward songs glossed over with a love of soundscape. Listening to the album, one gets the feeling that atmosphere and mood were prioritized over strong melodies and adventurous constructions. Even with the billows of some meticulous arrangements, the album suffers largely from lulls. Songs such as “Winter Hill,” and even the upbeat “The Outsides,” lag – they feel like they’re just going through the motions of modern Britpop – and the majority of the song “Compulsion” is made up of a lifeless disco groove that’s embarrassing, especially coming from a band with their origins in Manchester raves.
More on Doves | Kingdom of Rust
March 19, 2009
2009 | Astralwerks
A fetching picture of a feline-masked Kate Moss on the cover of a stray issue of Interview – one of those dusty, months-old volumes that resurfaces at the top of a pile for no apparent reason – reminded me of Pete Doherty. During his own personal troubles (throughout most of the 21st century), Doherty has been very publicly at war with himself, the occupier and the occupied in a time and place of heavy Moss-petting, drug use, brief imprisonment, creepy YouTube clips, and career suicide attempts. For most of the past decade, it has been impossible not to hear tell of Pete(-er, as he now prefers)’s romanticized battles with the trappings of fame. It has, however, been possible to ignore the core reason for his fame – his musical talent and his (un-junked) charismatic potential.
So it came as something of a surprise when the news popped up on my screen – the product of one of those stray press links that appear in a sidebar for no apparent reason – that Peter released a new album this week, Grace/Wastelands. Maybe I just haven’t been following the movements of the pop culture operation the way I should be, or maybe things have gotten to the point where Doherty’s music isn’t, in itself, newsworthy. Maybe we prefer the story of his embattled life better than his actual life’s work – which is the thing that mends what the other thing eventually seeks to destroy.
More on Peter Doherty | Grace/Wastelands