Documentarians of oppressed urban glamour and repressed suburban clamour, Manchester’s Doves return after a 10 year hiatus (2009’s ‘Kingdom of Rust’ sounding more apposite now) with their fifth album ‘The Universal Want’.

The amicable separation proves dividends on a reenergised and revitalised work ethic and approach to their craft, the end results are a loose, languid and laconic air of (p)lush electronica and soft-rock and hard-soul. This is Doves’ tried and tested modus operandi and it’s a welcome remedy: if music is a necessary salve for troubled times then these ten tracks are just the tonic.

Like fellow Northern prose-poets Elbow, Doves are guaranteed a nifty line in the foibles, quibbles and wibbles of existence: from the psychic cost of human engagements and transactions as potential traps ((‘I will not hide’; ‘Cycle of hurt’) to the Country & Northern metronomic groove of ‘Mother Silverlake’ replete with spectral echo-vocals.

Jimi Goodwin’s enunciation, pronunciation and renunciation has always contained the persistent air of resignation, the wary sighs and weary cries of someone whose seen and heard enough yet clings resolutely onto aspirations of doom and gloomed romanticism. Hope prevails somewhere … it has to.

Opener ‘Carousels’ has a trip-hopping backbeat (a looping sample of the late Afrobeat-skins man, Tony Allen), it’s a tale of faded memories, jaded nostalgia and the cascading journeys of recollection, (dis)location and the merry-go-round (again) of repetition. Too much repeat and you’ll fade away.

Allied to the Williams brothers’ ever-subtle orchestrations and forever ambient-transience (the Bowie-mourning ‘Cathedrals of your mind’ a case in point, the closing two minutes a melodious masterclass in sombre-timbre) herein lurks the familiar atmospheres of melancholy, an underrated and misunderstood fundamental of human emotion. Where the wells of despair can provide paths to somewhere … anywhere, when the realisation that nowhere is simply now here. In order to look up with renewed wonder you have to sink to the bottom.

Doves are back, it’s like they’ve never been gone.

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