Mancunian indie rock trio Doves rose to power in the early 2000s amid a wave of engaging post-Brit-pop acts like Elbow, Starsailor, and Coldplay. Fusing some of the livelier pop elements from an earlier dance-oriented project with a rousing rock melodicism, the band earned a Mercury Prize nomination right out of the gate for their 2000 debut, then proceeded to top the U.K. charts with their next two albums, The Last Broadcast (2002) and Some Cities (2005). Doves' popularity continued through the end of the decade after which they took most of the 2010s off. Their hiatus ended in 2020 when, after a series of comeback shows a year earlier, the band delivered their fifth album, The Universal Want.
Before embracing Brit-pop in the late '90s, Doves' three members -- vocalist/bassist Jimi Goodwin and twin bothers Jez Williams (guitar) and Andy Williams (drums) -- figured prominently in the Madchester scene, where they scored a Top Five single as part of the dance combo Sub Sub. "Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)" peaked at number three in the U.K., but Sub Sub failed to produce any significant follow-up hits, and a fire destroyed their recording studio in February 1995. After taking several years to restructure their sound, the musicians reappeared in 1998 as Doves, whose sweeping pop/rock material owed more to the Verve and Radiohead than Sub Sub's club-oriented peers.
Doves debuted in October 1998 with the Cedar EP, which sold out of its limited pressing and paved the way for the musicians' association with Badly Drawn Boy (who employed them as his backing band on several singles). Doves released two additional EPs, Sea and Here It Comes, before signing a European contract with Heavenly Records, the venerable London-based label that had recently scored a hit with Beth Orton. Heavenly issued Doves' full-length debut, Lost Souls, in April 2000, while an American release followed in October via the Astralwerks label. Marrying traces of Sub Sub's danceable past with an emphasis on live instrumentation, Lost Souls earned a nomination for the Mercury Prize -- which the band ironically lost to Badly Drawn Boy -- and spawned three Top 40 singles in the U.K. By 2001, the band's American representation had been upgraded to Capitol Records, and Doves returned to the U.K. charts one year later with The Last Broadcast. The sophomore album debuted atop the charts in England and, like its predecessor, climbed to platinum status, propelled in part by the number three single "There Goes the Fear."
While assembling their third album, Some Cities, Doves retreated to the English countryside and took up residence in a number of cottages, churches, and intimate recording studios. Although conceived far away from the band's native Manchester, Some Cities still sported an urban tone, and the album climbed to number one during its first week of release. Doves' audience was further expanded through a number of touring efforts, some of which saw the band opening for the likes of U2, Oasis, and Coldplay. Several years later, Doves once again decamped to more rural surroundings -- this time to the agricultural community of Cheshire, England, where they set up shop in a converted farmhouse -- to record another album. Kingdom of Rust was ultimately released in April 2009, reaching number two on the U.K. charts. In spite of the band's continued success, their activity began to wind down and following a 2010 compilation, The Places Between: The Best of Doves, they went on an extended hiatus that lasted nearly a decade. During their time away from Doves, Goodwin launched a solo career with the 2014 album, Odludek, while the Williams brothers released an album as Black Rivers a year later. A revival of fan interest in the band coincided with a series of 2019 reunion gigs and soon Doves were back in the studio as well. Eleven years after their previous album, the group released their fifth LP, The Universal Want, in September 2020. ~ Andrew Leahey