Doves - The Universal Want
Updated: May 4, 2021
Byrds, Eagles, Swans....even The Pigeon Detectives - avian themed band names have a long, and occasionally illustrious heritage. Doves definitely continue this.
Emerging from Manchester as dance act Sub Sub, in 1991, with the massive hit Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use), they probably would have stayed as Sub Sub until a fire at their Ancoats studio destroyed the songs they were working on. They decided to regroup and relaunch as a more indie-themed band - Doves.
Four brilliant albums later, they decided to take a break from each other, with Jimi Goodwin, their singer and bass player, releasing his solo album Odludek in 2014. Brothers Jez and Andy Williams followed this quickly, recording as Black Rivers and releasing their eponymous album later that year. Both recordings were solid, both were great live, but clearly they missed each other.
So when they regrouped to play live for the Teenage Cancer Trust, Mrs JO'B and I were there like a shot - they played a euphoric gig at the Royal Albert Hall, and then announced new album was on its way. Lockdown stalled further shows, but The Universal Want was finally released in September 2020, 20 years after their debut Lost Souls.
Lead single Carousels announced their return, and it’s like they never went away - sampling the late Tony Allen’s afrobeat drums, it whirls around, inspired by childhood trips to the fairgrounds in Wales.
Cathedrals Of The Mind samples a recording of a speech by a member of the Black Panthers, a heartfelt cry for justice, sadly as relevant today as it was back in the 60s. The lyrics meanwhile focus on someone lost that cannot be forgotten. Prisoners feels especially apt, given the year we have just had. “We can’t pretend we’re not prisoners of these times”, but although it alludes to the end of a relationship, there is light at the end of the tunnel as well.
With its nod to their dance origins, the title track focuses on accepting desires can never be satisfied - “The universal want is everyone, it’s never enough”. The whole album carries that theme - loss and misplaced desire.
Third single Broken Eyes though is its standout, with its wonky guitar riff, soaring chorus and cutting lyrics (“I can’t help it if you don’t feel satisfied”), it’s a classic and one that will rip the roof off live.
Overall, it's a fantastic return, rejuvenated, relevant and refreshed. Can't wait for the shows in 2022.