Doves: The Universal Want (IMPERIAL) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney

The Universal Want


Sep 10, 2020 Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney Bookmark and Share

The aughts demanded the work. The ensuing decade provided the break.

When Jimi Goodwin, Andy Williams, and Jez Williams, together the Cheshire-based trio known as Doves, announced an indefinite hiatus after putting out The Places Between: The Best of Doves in 2010, it signaled the closing of a chapter—and maybe more. The band members themselves had no clue. They simply knew they had come to an end.

“We just wanted to get off that whole album-tour-album-tour treadmill,” said Goodwin at the time. “This is wiping the slate clean, we have nothing else in the vaults now. That is it. Whatever we do from now on will be a new start.”

In the years since the band’s last studio album, the tour-de-force that was 2009’s Kingdom of Rust, Doves have flown in different directions—Goodwin on a solo turn and the Williams brothers as Black Rivers. Then, in 2017, some organic writing sessions were borne from social occasions and it wasn’t long before the firstfruits of something new were presenting themselves. The tracks would eventually comprise the band’s newest and most expansive album to date, The Universal Want.

From the very beginning, The Universal Want tips its cap to the trio’s dance hall beginnings—their first iteration making music together was under the dance moniker Sub Sub—with the propulsive “Carousels.” Atop an incredible breakbeat from late Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen, further synths and loops twist around the haunting vocal work of Goodwin and Jez Williams. The single is undoubtedly Doves but it opens doors to exciting new worlds all the same.

From there, Doves explore new sonic interests and influences on a number of tracks. From the restraint and subtle electro-flourishes of “I Will Not Hide” to the lush layers of “Cathedrals of the Mind,” Doves’ members are constantly toying with rhythms and playing with textures. Sometimes the most interesting turns within a song are saved until its closing moments, rewarding the listener who gives their full attention to The Universal Want.

For all of their new musical ideas, The Universal Want’s lyrical themes remain congruent with the rest of Doves’ acclaimed catalog. The title even gives it away. The familiar longing of past albums is very present in songs such as “Prisoners,” on which Goodwin sings, “We can’t pretend we’re not prisoners of this life.” Later, on the title track, he observes, “The universal want is everywhere.”

Once again, Goodwin provides language and welcome company for the search we’re all on—for meaning, for hope, for resonance—whether we’re cognizant of it or not. The Universal Want is a most welcome return from an important band given a well-deserved respite. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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