Honesty is hard to define in the context of an album but since we first heard -The Cedar Room’ in 2000, State has been eager followers of Doves’ sound, coming as it does from a mix of optimism and grey streets, a Northern English guitar realism with that often-mentioned dance undercurrent (from their past as Sub Sub). They have played some of the most joyus concerts ever witnessed in The Olympia, Dublin too. After opening The Last Broadcast gig with the massive -There Goes The Fear’ then straight into and -Pounding’ a Sunday Times hack remarked to State that if they left the stage now it would still be a remarkable gig.
So four years from the last offering, Some Cities, and the first we hear of Doves is a free download from their website, and a video for the first single – also the opening two tracks on the album. -Jetstream’ is a powerful, Blade Runner inspired number – taking some twists on the Vangelis futuristic synth/rock sound created for the film and crafting a song cloaked in dark streets, neon signs and -silent jets at night’. This seamlessly takes us into the single, and title track, -Kingdom Of Rust’. Moving things from a future vision to a hybrid of Sergio Leone westerns and a road trip through the cold north. Accompanied by a most touching and captivating promo video (below), the sense is that Doves have embraced the cinematic and are attempting to be as widescreen as they can.
What the band manage to do, and where we’re back to this idea of honesty, is that they never sound like they are above us – that they live in a house on the hill. Even the spaghetti-western sound of the second track is adapted to sound and feel familiar and, well, local perhaps. Jimi Goodwin revisits similar clutching-at-a-failing-relationship as -There Goes The Fear’ on -Winter Hill’ and it is again a sadness we all know, and yet still uplifting in its sound.
If, like State, you still like to think of your albums as having two sides, then the side B opener, -The Greatest Denier’ is a soaring high-point. The last minute could be that moment in live shows when people in the crowd just start yelpling. Their old roots as dance producers raise their heads on -Compulsion’ and while it trades atmosphere with the opening song, it’s a brave change in rhythm and beats but still manages to suit the album.
There are a number of moments where it feels a little everyman, however. There are three or four songs that are good, but forgettable, and it never feels as cohesive as the first two albums. The cinematic feel at the beginning never quite manages to seep through the entire album and as much as we tried to love it we found it lacking the full punch. But for its soaring moments, and honesty, of course, it’s a fine addition to the Mancunians’ canon.