Doves - “The Universal Want” Review

Story posted September 16, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Megan Kelby

After 11 years since their latest album, Doves decided to put aside their solo careers and get back to recording together to create their fifth studio album, “The Universal Want.”

Doves, consisting of bassist and vocalist Jimi Goodwin and twin brothers Andy Williams and Jez Williams, began playing covers again last year. They later announced they would be making a new album, “The Universal Want,” seemingly in an attempt to remind their fans that they weren’t done yet.

And they did just that.

The album opener, “Carousels,” which had been released earlier, sets the tone for the album. Beginning with an indistinct audio, the sound builds up and fades away into a drum beat and electric guitar melody that quickly changes the song's tempo.

The upbeat tune is juxtaposed by the somber lyrics that join in shortly after, describing going back to a place riddled with fond memories and realizing how much has changed.

The intensity of “Carousels” is almost lost by its seemingly meaningless follow up, “I Will Not Hide.” Accompanied by a distorted intro of someone talking, this track is a clear disappointment in terms of instrumental matchup and lyrical weight.

Though the metaphor from the title and chorus can be interpreted that the singer will no longer hide who he is, the phrase is repeated numerous times and does not correlate well with the melancholic realization of adulthood the rest of songs have.

A majority of the songs that follow use the original blueprint, starting soft until a more intense drumbeat is introduced, adding in vocals and always leaving room for an instrumental solo of some sort halfway through.

Though the lyrical portion of the songs provide a deeper look into an aging soul, most of the audio and techno snippets fade away into sounding more like the background track for a coming of age movie.

Despite the generic soundtrack feeling some of the songs produce, the work of  “Broken Eyes,” “Mother of Silverlake” and “Prisoners” allow the goal of the album to shine through.

Instead of appealing to the new wave of music that has swept in, Doves instead embraces what they know and applies it to their lyrics. “Broken Eyes” focuses on the hard times of a long-lasting relationship while “Prisoners” is more about the confines of adulthood, both told over an intense and positive tempo.

On the other hand, “Mother of Silverlake” returns to childhood insecurities resurfacing years later with an ominous rock beat and catchy chorus. Though all three songs have different tempos and use of instrumentals, they have the same overall goal of conveying the emotions of adulthood.

“The Universal Want” seemed to stick to the band’s established sound, following their discography as they age. However, it does not fall into the current music landscape, but that might be exactly what they wanted.

The lack of outreach towards younger listeners with this album proves that Doves will not be one to appeal to the flow of mainstream music now, or ever.

Despite a few lyrical flops, “The Universal Want” was a great way to welcome Doves back into the hearts of their fans. Not succumbing to what is “trending” in music today allows the band to blaze their own path with their new return.

Though the band has been in the industry long enough, Doves should continue to explore other ways to develop their sound and continue to utilize lyrics that have great meaning to them. Following the idea to write what they know and discover as they age can only lead to more listeners who understand the melancholy mood of life they have presented.

Overall: 6/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “Broken Eyes” and “Mother of Silverlake”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Songs: “I Will Not Hide” and “Cycle of Hurt”

Megan Kelby is a freshman majoring in communications. To contact her email, mkk5701@psu.edu.