Some Cities

Studio Album by released in 2005

Some Cities review

Fusing Radiohead's and The Flaming Lip's experimentation and mood-music with Oasis's and Coldplay's lyrics and instrumental prowess, the Manchester-based Doves have created three stellar albums focusing on stated characteristics. Just like their previous albums, 2005’s Some Cities features hauntingly atmospheric soundscapes and strong melodies. But this disk takes a slightly different tack. The band's chief inspiration came in returning to Manchester after months of touring to find the city had changed in its absence; old buildings had been ripped down, new developments taking shape in their wake. While their music is as powerful as ever, the Doves try some new musical styles – ballads and a bit of dancepop – woven in with the guitar rock. Instead of going for a continuously epic sound, they opt for a more intimate one to go with their home-village theme – gentler, sadder and sometimes sweeter. This time, the songs are shorter, with more of a live feel to them. The subtle electronics the band uses are mostly jettisoned for orchestral instruments and female backing vocals. And the Doves' '60s soul influences are more apparent than ever.

Not straying far from their signature sound, Some Cities opens with a title track, a very pre-Achtung Baby U2-esque sounding song with a strong vocal performance from lead singer Jimi Goodwin. This song leads into the album's strongest, most single-worthy song, Black and White Town. The mellow and atmospheric song The Storm may just be the Dove's best Radiohead impersonation. The following track Walk in Fire steps into dance-pop territory, but with mixed results; the song sounds too jazzy to fit into the rest of the album, and the vocal is too tenuous for this style of music. Things pick up again at track eight, the haunting Someday Soon. The strength of the album rests in two focused, complex, and engaging songs – Someday Soon and The Storm. Ambition closes the album, featuring a filtered vocal performance that sounds like the band is performing in either a concert hall or in a really echo-y room.

Of course it’s not a concept album per se, but it certainly carries a central theme; alienation, recourse to old ways and a general state of detachment. It's always a shock to go home after a few years away, and discover the changes that people living there haven't even noticed. In a way, it's watching an old life slipping away. And it feels like the guys from Manchester are having a rude awakening to this in Some Cities. This album lets the Doves stretch their wings with some exquisite new musical styles and a poignant look back at their hometown. They might not look like the skinny young things the hyper British music press insists everyone should love. They don't have the right hair, vintage suits or cool retro ties. But over three epic albums, the band has sealed its reputation as a quality act fully capable of swiping Coldplay's fans.