Doves’ first album since 2009 effort Kingdom of Rust is the sound of a band revitalised. It is a euphoric return for an act who, for a while, many had assumed were dead in the water. The result of this decade long absence is the utterly delightful The Universal Want, an album which goes toe to toe with anything in their impressive repertoire.
Unlike a lot of so-called ‘comeback’ records, The Universal Want was genuine from start to finish. After years of no contact, in 2017 frontman Jimi Goodwin reconvened with brothers Jez and Andy Williams for a secretive jam session which began to sow the seed for the second chapter for Doves. Their fifth album was worked on steadily at a snail’s pace over the last three years as they built on the record for the enjoyment of being together once more rather, it has to be said, that to force a new record. Taking it two songs at a time before taking lengthy breaks between recording, Doves found a new routine.
There’s a risk that the magical chemistry that the trio lived on throughout the 2000s would be lost after the decade apart but, actually, the bound sound tighter for the absence. The hypnotic ‘Carousels’ starts the album in barnstorming fashion and offers up the perfect reminder of the brilliance that ensues when Goodwin and the Williams brothers enter the studio together.
More than anything else The Universal Want makes the listener feel such a range of emotions thanks to it’s beautifully suffocating sound that the trio has mastered that leaves you waiting off Jimi Goodwin’s every last note. The vocalist adds so much depth to the record which is especially poignant on the heartbreaking ‘Cathedral of the Mind‘ and ‘Prisoners’.
‘Broken Eyes’ epitomises the theme of the record which is creating these euphoric, jubilant moments coming from utter darkness which feels much needed right now in a world that could do with all the exhilaration possible especially during calamitous times.
The Universal Want is everything that you would expect from a Doves record. It is both a stimulating and euphoric listen in equal measure which sits up there with the band’s best work. There was a stark contrast between the relaxed method of recording for this album in comparison to their last project Kingdom of Rust, one which Jez Williams told Far Out was “painful to make”. A new mantra of doing “what we want, when we want” released that pressure from their shoulders and is evident across the record.
“We were trying to get down to the nucleus of the songs, we wanted the drums to sound small and claustrophobic so the music can wrap around it. This album is our self-help album,” Williams added. The track ‘Cycle of Hurt’ fits this aforementioned mantra of ‘self-help’ and reflecting on your own actions to escape this vicious cycle.
Doves didn’t need to create this record, they could have easily carried on riding the slower wave of being a reformed act and playing large venues. Instead, The Universal Want proves that they are not a ‘nostalgia’ act and their level of creativity has thrived from taking a second off the hamster wheel. An impeccable return from a band who wear their heart on their sleeve and a record shrouded in genuine authenticity that makes for a devastatingly stunning listen.