THIS MANCHESTER TRIO'S debut full-length dawns with a fizzy, elegant instrumental that stretches into a meaty slice of orchestral rock. With a spare, caffeinated kickdrum providing backbone, "Here it Comes" awakens another Britpop adventure: "This is a call/A call to all/It goes out to those who've been bad/And I should know because I've been." Maybe, deep down, twin brothers Jez and Andy Williams (along with mate Jimi Goodwin) are apologizing in advance to American audiences, not for their expansive Lost Souls, but for the countless misguided British guitar acts trumpeted stateside as the Next Big Thing--keeping in mind, of course, that Doves are easily fall 2000's leading candidate for that mantle.
Doves all but rise from the ashes of Sub Sub, a post-acid house outfit notable only for the 1993 Top Ten U.K. hit "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)." Their dance pedigree both helps and hinders Lost Souls. The threesome flex guitar muscle the way early-Nineties shoegazer acts from Slowdive to Ride curled chords. Thick guitar symphonies like "The Man Who Told Everything" methodically prove their might with straightforward string arrangements, brutish segues, and majestic vocals. And Doves' affected studio mannerisms, such as heavy overlays and watery distortion, add skewed shape and texture to tracks like "Here it Comes" and "Sea Song." Rather than slap fanciful sonic curlicues to half-baked rock songs, Doves seamlessly meld the two. But while the reverb and corrupted vocals generally work, the gadgetry stifles the momentum of "Break Me Gently" and muddies the faux-gospel title track.
Label execs seem to think that the U.S. public will fall under the spell of any Brit offering droll wit, a tooth for Sainsbury's digestive tea biscuits, and floppy hair. Anglophiles (hell, myself included) bite and buy with gusto. But usually these acts fall as flat with the mass as Guinness on a warm summer's day. Kula Shaker has lost its groove. Richard Ashcroft really does seem to be alone with everybody. Gay Dad has apparently returned to the closet. Doves as Brit-rock saviors? Horsefeathers. But in a medium largely ruled by style, these boys manage to milk out a couple bucketfuls of substance.