The hype machine that is U.K. rock journalism has proclaimed just about every new band as the next big thing at one point or another, but rare is the act that truly lives up to such billing over the l
The hype machine that is U.K. rock journalism has proclaimed just about every new band as the next big thing at one point or another, but rare is the act that truly lives up to such billing over the long haul. And while Manchester, England's Doves were the subject of extensive media praise for their 2000 debut, "Lost Souls," band members would never have predicted the chart onslaught that has accompanied "The Last Broadcast," due June 4 in North America via Capitol.
First single "There Goes the Fear" debuted at No. 3 on the U.K. singles chart last month, outselling all the commercial singles from "Lost Souls" in one week. "The Last Broadcast" did it two better last weekend, rocketing straight to No. 1 on the U.K. album chart on sales of 52,000 copies. "We're bowled over," admits Jimi Goodwin, who, along with brothers Andy and Jez Williams, makes up the four-year-old trio's lineup.
Each member plays a variety of instruments on stage and in the studio, although Goodwin serves primarily as the vocalist and bassist. Before settling on Doves' guitar-centric sound, he and the Williams brothers were known as Sub Sub, an unabashedly dance-oriented combo that notched a No. 3 U.K. hit in 1993 with "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)."
"Lost Souls" re-introduced the group to the masses on the strength of absurdly catchy singles such as "Catch the Sun" and "Cedar Room" and moody, often haunting tracks such as "Break Me Gently" and "Sea Song." While tangential references to the Verve or Radiohead could be heard, Doves were successfully staking out their own sonic territory amid the more plaintive strains of countrymen such as Travis and Coldplay.
On "The Last Broadcast," the trio makes a giant creative leap forward, at once crafting the kind of jubilant guitar rock not heard since "Achtung Baby"-era U2 ("Pounding," "Caught by the River") and left-field winners borne as much out of studio experimentation as pre-existing ideas ("There Goes the Fear," "The Sulphur Man").
Goodwin credits the group's completely collaborative working relationship for the diversity of material on the album. "There are really no rules," he says. "If anything, all we just try to do is bring out the best in each of the songs or ideas. That's why there's no one-trick-pony thing happening, because there isn't one person struggling to write everything."
"The Last Broadcast" was also shaped by time spent on the road in North America, during which the band penned album tracks such as "N.Y." and "Satellites," plus "Hit the Ground Running," issued as a B-side on the "There Goes the Fear" single. "The audiences have just been amazing, with word-of-mouth and people telling their friends about us," Goodwin enthuses. "I think it definitely informed the LP. The gigging and the reaction we got -- I guess the last two years of gigging has buoyed us up and made us approach things differently."
Indeed, Goodwin says each member tried singing different portions of "There Goes the Fear" until settling on a combination of all three for the chorus ("maybe I'm just turned up a little bit louder to make it coherent and glued together," he offers). The title track was similarly labored until Goodwin sat down and rattled off stream-of-consciousness lyrics that were ultimately kept as the final take. "It's like an instinct thing," he says. "When you can get it, it's great."
The group just wrapped a U.K. tour and is gearing up for a month-long North American trek with its hometown colleagues in Elbow, kicking off June 1 in Detroit. Doves will spend the rest of the summer playing such U.K. festivals as T In The Park and V2002. In a nod to its Manchester roots, the group recorded a live cover of the Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" for an episode of the BBC TV show "Recovered" which will air June 7.
Asked how important it is for Doves to continue plugging away in North America in spite of such success at home, Goodwin notes, "It's important to us. But you're never going to see us do an eight-month tour, because we're not 21 anymore. I think a month at a time on a bus with 14 people is about our limit!"