Jez Williams of the Doves has described his hometown of Manchester, England, as "a bit of a shithole." Known primarily for music and football, it's the perfect desperate environment to spawn the Doves' breed of restless rock. Formerly known as Sub Sub, Williams, his twin brother Andy and Jimi Goodwin rode the early-'90s Manchester dance-rock wave to a reasonable level of success. Along with bands such as the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, they combined up-tempo dance tracks with driving rock guitars in a now seemingly prehistoric combination of hip-hop and rock that actually didn't suck! Go figure.After a fire decimated Sub Sub's space and equipment and after drugs and stagnation decimated the Manchester scene, the trio headed underground to record a new album under a new name. Their year-old Astralwerks debut, Lost Souls, is a tripped-out, layered pop masterpiece that has gone gold in the U.K. and is building up steam in the States thanks to rotation on MTV2 and more rave reviews than you can shake a Bic at. On the Brit-pop-o-meter, the Doves fall somewhere between Radiohead's subversive tinkering and the soaring ache of Coldplay, with a live show loud enough to make you almost forget about those lame-ass references. Incorporating subtle sampling and lush arrangements, the Doves definitely share part-time collaborator Badly Drawn Boy's knack for implying genres (hip-hop, psychedelia) without directly referencing them. With hooks for days and enough earphone candy to keep you interested long after you've memorized the choruses, Lost Souls is both a perfect stuck-in-traffic prayer and before-bed fulfillment.
Less lite than the current barrage of Brits to conquer America (Travis, Coldplay, etc.), the Doves are by no means cutesy or obnoxiously sensitive. In concert, they offer rawer, stripped-down versions of their tunes: It's guitar-heavy and loud as hell, but the harmonies are crisp and they've got a keyboard player in tow to pump up the dreaminess quotient. The balance struck is perfect. Go get Lost.