Some Cities

Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2005-03-01

Posted 03/01/2005 - 05:08:00 PM by WBSwygart:
 Amazingly, listening to their acoustic session for Jo Whiley, I started to think that they might be better served by stripping down. Goodwin's voice suddenly sounds much better when he relaxes and isn't having to battle with the arrangements. The beat is still good though, but I've never been especially tempted to buy any of their records after getting Lost Souls and realising that I didn't especially want to listen to it.
Posted 03/01/2005 - 11:10:10 PM by mbloodyv:
 Fine review, but does anyone really care what William B. Swygart says besides Ian Mathers or William B. Swygart?
Posted 03/02/2005 - 12:06:17 AM by IanMathers:
 On the one hand, you might as well ask who cares what I think, or what you think for that matter. On the other hand, I thought I made it pretty clear I used that quote because something about it resonates with how I feel about this album rather than whatever it is you're implying. On the other other hand, is there any particular reason you're being a jerk?
Posted 03/02/2005 - 11:15:16 AM by seligb:
 As far as I can tell, Doves' career up to this point has been boring rock plod. By contrast 'Some Cities' adds some interesting musical details to their usual mediocre guitar dirge, and feels fresher and richer as a result.
Posted 03/02/2005 - 03:03:57 PM by mtwill:
 This review is ridiculous. I knew it had to be another Ian Mathers classic before I even got to the bottom.
Posted 03/03/2005 - 03:45:43 AM by NickSouthall:
 seligb - as someone who has followed Doves since their first 10" single and seen them live a few times, I can say quite definitely that there are more guitars and more plod on this record than any of their others.

Some Cities is another “good” Doves album. It’s less prog than the last one, which is good, because the over-reliance on production really began to grate on me with Last Broadcast. The songs are shorter, there’s more guitar. It sounds brilliant, because they’re great producers, but Jimi still can’t sing. His weak lungs, his inability to sustain his breath (and therefore hold a note) mean that every song he sings is structured the same melodically, each line falling away as his breath fails and falters and vanishes. But at least he’s not the other guy, who seems to exist only as a device to attempt sabotage on Doves’ songs by having some kind of grating, squeaky asthma attack over the top of them – when he takes lead vocals for one song and seems to deliberately sing it off-key, out-of-tune and in any annoying voice, you have to wonder how stoned they were in the studio when they thought it was a good idea. Their heritage as Sub Sub, which was initially what marked them out as special and gave them a creative and atmospheric edge over other bands emerging at the same time (Witness, Coldplay), possibly, but now their… lack of songwriting ability? No. Lack of a way with a melody, or a hook, or a chorus (I’m not bothered about a whole song, not really) is starting to severely hamper my enjoyment of them. They still seem to compose music in terms of structure and layering like they were making dance tracks intended for ingestion in a club, I’m not sure how, just in some intangible way, but… I’m not one for subscribing to Noel Gallagher’s belief that any “great” “song” can be played solo on acoustic guitar and still sound great (in fact I think that’s ludicrous piffle), but, you know, I’d like some hooks.
Posted 03/03/2005 - 08:51:42 AM by Monkian:
 Interesting view. D+ is a very harsh mark I would say though you have provoked me to ask the following questions: Is it boring? Does it lack songs? I'm still undecided though I TOTALLY know what you mean. There aren't (m)any killer hooks. What I do know is it sounds good. It is so cleverly put together in its arrangements, production and sounds. I like his voice, that is a personal thing but I like their playing as well and the momentum, beats, mood and soul of their playing remains a cut above their contemporaries. I think it is more compact and accessible than, say, either of the Elbow records and I still think they are doing something original and meaningful.
Posted 03/03/2005 - 12:58:19 PM by hunky_dory:
 Agreeing with you, Ian. I never understand why people get offended by something so relatively meaningless as a record review. Yes, I'm talking to you, mtwill. It's obviously not Ian Mathers that you're upset with.
Posted 03/03/2005 - 08:57:00 PM by mtwill:
Posted 03/04/2005 - 12:30:04 PM by revolvingatom:
 if i may be so bold to respond to the comment by hunky_dory, the reason people become offended by some album reviews is because they come to trust and respect the opinions of some websites such as stylus, only to see an album that they feel a deep connection with being passed over with a poor, half-hearted and mis-guided review. not caring for an album is fine, but to write one off due to obvious laziness and apathy, is a shame.
Posted 03/04/2005 - 02:56:45 PM by fmadden:
 I don't see how anyone who listens to a lot of music can say in the grand spectrum of things this is a D+. I expect reductionism and laziness from the Rolling Stones of the world, but Ian seems to know (and accurately assess) Doves' first two albums. I think the second half of Some Cities could be stronger, but I think the grade and some of the "witticisms" in the review are trying too hard to be provocative, when the bottom line is that this is objectively a good album, which some will find great and the vast majority will find pretty good. I thought Scott Reid's review at CMG (linked previously) was the most spot-on I've read in terms of relating this album to both Doves' previous albums as well as the genre as a whole.
Posted 03/05/2005 - 03:26:23 AM by NickSouthall:
 There really is no such thing as an "objectively good album".
Posted 03/07/2005 - 11:05:41 AM by hunky_dory:
 Thanks very much, Nick. You nailed it. And, for that matter, there's really no such thing an objective review. No matter what anyone says, you can't remove biases and tastes and preconceptions and expectations when reviewing a record, particularly if you feel a "deep connection" with an artist's previous work. (Exactly why I was disappointed with 'A Ghost Is Born' despite its overall solidness.) Revolvingatom, because you trust and respect the opinions of Stylus' reviewers, does that mean that a poor review makes you like an album less, or trust and respect the zine less? And if laziness and apathy were the root causes of this so-called poor review, would the review have been published at all? You're just pissed because your tastes haven't been validated.
Posted 03/09/2005 - 06:31:25 PM by IanMathers:
 No disrespect to Scott Reid (I like his Some Cities review, and we clearly feel similarly about Doves' past work), but anyone who likes "Shadows Of Salford" or "Someday Soon" is enjoying the same bits of this album that most make me think this was a lost opportunity. And that's fine, but to criticize me for not liking it is pretty ridiculous. I love how when I dislike the new album by a band I really, really like, people who disagree with me accuse me of "apathy". And, shockingly enough, I don't consider every album ever made when assigning grades. I know, burn me at the stake...
Posted 04/10/2005 - 11:07:40 AM by lovezero:
 this is worse than the previous one. good tracks are mercury rev-ish "Snowden" and “Walk In Fire”. good review and rating.
Posted 06/30/2005 - 01:47:15 AM by cherryblossom:
 Ouch. D+ ? I don't care what Mr. Mathers says, I thought this release was quite lovely.
Posted 01/12/2006 - 01:24:03 AM by AllenCZ:
 I agree with mfadden. While there are a couple songs that are unlistenable (Shadows of Salford is pretty darn bad), there are at least twice as many wonderful ones. I mean, Illinois and Broken Social Scene are filled with less than perfect tracks, but it doesn't really effect their rating. Granted, Some Cities isn't the most original album, but it is something that a lot of people will enjoy. At the very least, it is an above average album. A D+ is pretty misleading.
Posted 08/09/2006 - 11:23:53 AM by redstars1:
 there is no way in hell this decent album deserves a D+ there is nothing wrong with the musicianship and the songs continue along the same path as their brillant second album. ridiculous that it was given such a low mark.