I started this series counting down my ten favourite albums of 2000 almost two years ago. Usually, when I start them, I bulldoze through the posts and get the series wrapped up in less than two months. And while I started this one as I normally would in the summer of 2021, my sense of urgency with the series tailed off to almost nothing and the drafts sat idle for many months in between, while I picked at them and glanced at them, while concentrating on other pieces. I decided this month, though, April 2023, it was way past time to wrap this one up.
Interestingly, when I started this series, Doves were very much a going concern. They had reunited after after a nine year absence in 2019, performed a string of successful shows, reissued their first three albums on vinyl (including this one), and released a brand new album called “The universal want” in 2020, which topped my list of albums for that year. Then, in October 2021, a few weeks after I posted the number four album in this series, Doves cancelled all the remaining dates in the tour that they were on, citing health concerns for their frontman, Jimi Goodwin. And while they haven’t officially disbanded, there has been little news since of any new activity.
For any of you not in the know, Doves are a Manchester, England-based trio that originally formed as a group called Sub Sub back in 1991. They had released a few house and dance type singles and were gearing up for something bigger when their studio burnt down in 1996. They re-emerged as Doves a couple of years later, with a new sound as well as a new name.
I didn’t hear their debut, “Lost souls”, when it was originally released. I only got into them a few years later with their sophomore release, “The last broadcast”, a story I’ve recounted before on these pages. My love for that album had me going back to discover the debut and fall for it just as hard. For me, it’s hard to pick a favourite from those first two records but I’d agree with the pundits that claim it as being possibly the best debut album since, “Definitely maybe”. “Lost souls” also did just as well commercially, hitting the UK album charts, three of its singles charted, and it was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, losing out to Badly Drawn Boy’s “The hour of the bewilderbeast”, an album on which Dove’s members also performed.
“Lost souls” is one of those albums that just screams out for a good pair of ear phones, a bit of dim lighting, perhaps candles scattered about the room, and some good wine to sip on. Though it could also just as easily be good company on a night drive on the highway, layers of beautiful sounds flying past alongside the blur of red taillights off in the distance. Doves’ music exist in its own plane, an environment of the band’s own making, each song a riddle to unwrap and savour. Two of the three picks I’ve selected for you below appeared in My Best Tunes of 2000 list when I counted that down in this blog’s early days and the other was one that I had to haggle my way to selecting from wealth of awesomeness on offer.
This is a great great album. But don’t take my word for it, listen to it yourself and thank me later.
“Melody calls”: “A melody calls. A setting sun, a melody calls. Time to lose myself again.” A haunting guitar line fades in across the land, drifting in upon the breeze from a circus being packed up from the other side of the plains. It is the sound of memory and sadness and is instantly recognizable as such. The trio then jump in together to create an ear worm that anyone would want to sing along with. There’s a lot of bah-bah-bahs, hand claps, foot stomps, glockenspiels, and of course, that instrument of forelorn wants and needs, the harmonica. It is three and half minutes of momentary light and joy in the middle of a dark and obscured world.
“Catch the sun“: (The following words are a sampling from the post on this song’s appearance at #10 on the list of Best tunes for 2000) “Every day it comes to this, catch the things you might have missed. You say, get back to yesterday. I ain’t ever going back.” Jimi Goodwin just lays it all out there with his matter-of-fact and assured delivery, sounding very much like he comes from a long line of Madchester vocalists, like a meeting over pints with Ian Brown and Tim Burgess but with some bourbon thrown in for depth. And he’s got the guitar and drum muscle to back him up on this song, all driving and gut-wrenching, creating an envelope of sound that you wish you could seal yourself up in for the afternoon. However, it’s not to be as Goodwin and the brothers Williams are urging you forward, to get you out there into the world and experience everything under the sun.
“The man who told everything”: (Much like for the previous song, I’m paraphrasing here from a past post, but in this case, the song appeared at #3) “I’m gonna tell it all, I’m gonna sell it all, I’m gonna sell / Get out of bed, come out and sing, blue skies ahead, the man who told everything.” This song is big, bold, and beautiful. But don’t mistake my words for inferring that this tune is high energy frenzy. Instead, for all the excitement of the words, the music has a more muted pace. The guitar strumming matches the easy drumming at the outset but at each chorus, another layer of guitars and string effects is added that has an arduous quality, at once daunting and stubborn and unforgiving… So much awesome.
Just in case you missed them, here are the previous albums that have graced this list:
10. Richard Ashcroft “Alone with everybody”
9. The New Pornographers “Mass romantic”
8. The Cure “Bloodflowers”
7. The Weakerthans “Left and leaving”
6. The Clientele “Suburban light”
5. Belle and Sebastian “Fold your hands child, you walk like a peasant”
4. Coldplay “Parachutes”
3. Mojave 3 “Excuses for travellers”
2. The Dandy Warhols “Thirteen tales from urban bohemia”
You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.