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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Central nerve rehab

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Several years before his death, George Harrison criticized electronic-techno-dance music, theorizing that fans were "destroying their nervous systems." Of course, the wonderful Mr. Harrison always seemed somewhat preoccupied with the nervous system, once claiming Beatlemania had destroyed all four Fabs' systems and then using the words "nervous system" in at least three of his post-Beatles songs. It was also a somewhat odd statement coming from the pioneer who created both Wonderwall Music and Electronic Sounds — but all that considered, it's unfortunate that George didn't live long enough to discover and appreciate the Doves.

Dance purists may scoff at the band being associated with that form, but the Manchester-based trio definitely has incorporated part of that sound into its music, rising as it did from the Madchester dance scene, even scoring a dance hit while still youngsters known as Sub Sub. The new album — the group's first in almost five years — even kicks off with a song titled "Jetstream" that could be confused as a Kraftwerk outtake (the very beginning of it somewhat annoyingly sounds like your CD player might be skipping). "10:03" was arranged by one of the Chemical Brothers. There are positively what can only be described as dance beats all over the place. And so on.

But as far back as their 1999 debut as the Doves, the band added Beatlesque — or Brit-pop, if you prefer — melodies and ethereal, multi-layered, Radiohead-inspired soundscapes to their methods. Hell, the title track here has a country-music feel! And it not only works but it's often beautiful, as their music's been since that debut release. Kingdom of Rust doesn't grab as immediately as its three predecessors did. Despite all those years in the making, a lot of this sounds like familiar terrain. And they should perhaps concentrate less on the anthems (leave 'em to Bono and Chris Martin) and more on those grand soundscapes. But as Wilco and the aforementioned Radiohead have certainly proved, claiming one needs to spend time with an album doesn't always mean "there are no hooks."

Definitely "trippy" music if tripping was still the thing to do (probably not a good idea, though, when one can turn on a TV and still see Dick Cheney's butt-ugly face staring out at you; talk about buzzkill ... ).

Doves play Saturday, May 30, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.

Bill Holdship is the music editor of Metro Times Send comments to


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