Four years after retreating to the English countryside to record 2005's Some Cities, Doves return to a more urban state of mind with Kingdom of Rust. "My god," Jimi Goodwin sings during the title track, "it takes an ocean of trust in the kingdom of rust." Guitars chime throughout the chorus, where Goodwin's baritone searches of a lost love amidst a town's landscape. A string section makes an appearance toward the song's conclusion, bringing with it the same sweeping, Brit-pop uplift that fueled the band's debut album. Doves are still indebted to that scene -- the same one that spawned dozens of guitar-fueled, new-millennial rock bands -- but their songs have become broader in scope, often reaching an elated, emotional peak before spending a good amount of time on that emotion's melancholic comedown. As the album title suggests, Kingdom of Rust gives time to both sides of the band's personality, from the sweeping, cathedral-esque anthems ("The Outsiders," "Winter Hill") to dark, tarnished brooders ("Jetstream") that help level the spectrum. Songs like "10:03" and "Birds Flew Backwards" strike a balance between those two camps, with the latter track featuring a stately cello and some dazzling moments of atmospheric, reverb-heavy harmonies. This is still a bright record, though, one that finds catharsis in the gloomier songs and strength in the tracks that resemble Lost Souls' anthems.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey