When England’s Doves first emerged with its Lost Souls album two years ago, the group sounded like born-again shoegazers channeling the black metallic anthems of Catherine Wheel and the loping swoon of Chapterhouse. And like those two long-forgotten early ’90s footnotes, there was plenty to like about Doves’ dark, swooning choruses and pale, shimmery guitars — but there wasn’t enough to love.
As The Last Broadcast shows, however, anybody trying to nail down Doves to being mere early ’90s revivalists just wasn’t thinking big enough. Outpacing both the nasal finality of Oasis and the hamstrung blues ambitions of the Verve, this time Doves dodges the ’90s altogether and reaches back further, to that great expansive sound of mid-’80s Echo and the Bunnymen and U2.
Formed in the mid-’90s from the ashes of decent-enough acid-house one-hit-wonders Sub Sub (its big hit was a chill-out track inspired by Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”), Doves have never lost that 4 a.m. feeling, and the band shines in the stoner-rock-meets-stoner-house breakdowns and freakouts of “N.Y.” and the glittering landing lights of guitar and “We Will Rock You” drums of “Words.” Like Moby’s 18, Last Broadcast is not a dance record. Still, it glows and smolders with an autumnal sensibility that comes from outgrowing the linear frequencies of the almighty four-on-the-floor, but not its take-your-breath-away kinetic rush. And unlike Radiohead, Doves doesn’t disappear into the numb pulse of wires, but uses it to face itself head-on. Which is why “There Goes the Fear” churns ahead atop its polyrhythms at a pace that keeps its regret-filled, life-has-passed-you-by-lyrics from sinking below chest level. Brilliant, as the Limeys like to say.
E-mail Hobey Echlin at email@example.com.