The Places Between: Best of Doves
Whether you’ve heard of the band Doves might boil down to one factor: where you live.
In the UK, they’ve captured a generous amount of fame thanks to a decade of songwriting, scoring back-to-back #1’s on the album charts with their two debut albums alone. Their sound is like a slightly sadder (and more electronic) Coldplay, or like fellow Manchurians Elbow: lots of melody and lots of melancholy; sweeping anthems that combine traditional pop guitar and piano with alt-rock expression.
Here in the U.S., Doves are more known to devoted fans, but converts-to-be can dive right in with their new career-spanning retrospective The Places Between: The Best of Doves. The full release contains three discs: one with a collection of "greatest hits," a second full of b-sides and alternate versions, and a DVD containing all of the band’s music videos.
The result is an interesting summary. Nine of the 14 previously recorded songs are from Doves’ first two albums, but the selection is an apt abridgment of the band’s lengthy career, from the charming, catchy “There Goes the Fear” to 7-minute hand-clapping opus “The Cedar Room.” The record also includes fan favorites like “Black and White Town,” a jangly Motown-tinged ode to restlessness (“I gotta get out of this satellite town”). Overall, it’s heavy on the band’s singles, which fortuitously are also some of their strongest tracks.
Listeners aching for new material are also sated with three new songs: “Andalucia,” the hard-driving single, is one of the band’s catchiest songs to date, and “Drifter” and “Blue Water” are bouncing, melodic pop numbers. A few rare B-sides are sprinkled in, like the rollicking “Push Me On,” a bonus track from the band’s fourth album, and the tempo-jumping “Eleven Miles Out.”
The brooding Brits actually began their career in techno music, and looking back on a decade of material, it’s easy to see that they made the right decision in genre-hopping. For a band that has its genesis in thumping club music, Doves now is one of the most cerebral bands in today’s indie scene. For years they’ve withstood Radiohead comparisons, and currently they’re shuttled alongside bands like Snow Patrol and Clinic.
The comparisons are telling, because Doves’ music is peculiarly, perhaps stubbornly retro; their album comes a decade after the zenith of their mellow, brooding brand of indie. Some may allege that the a "greatest hits" album seems like a cash-grab for a band that never quite made it, but for fans firmly entrenched in Doves’ sound, this collection is a deep-rooted journey through the band’s rich history. For potential fans, it’s a terrific place to start.