The Best of Doves: The Places Between 2000-2010
Ten years ago, Doves released the brilliant, moody Lost Souls and three studio albums later, they remain one of England’s prime rock acts, though they still haven’t matched the same status in America of many of their British colleagues (hopefully last year’s film Zombieland, which featured “Kingdom of Rust,” turned more Americans on to the trio). At once, a greatest hits album seems rather premature and yet long overdue; premature because the band is still at the top of their game, overdue because they have more than an album’s worth of material to fill a hits album. So it’s no wonder that The Places Between runs two hefty discs worth of material, encompassing not only radio staples, but also less advertised album tracks, B-sides, alternate versions and several previously unreleased tracks.
The first disc contains the obvious hits: “Catch the Sun,” “Caught By the River,” “Black and White Town,” etc. But the inclusion of a couple seemingly random songs like “10:03” and “Snowden” begs the question of what makes these songs greatest-hits-worthy? Granted, “Snowden” was indeed turned into a music video, but both songs rank low in popularity on downloading sites. Neither track is representative of what makes Doves special; arguably, it’s to the contrary, each song demonstrating the band’s more cautious and blander side. There are too many other Doves songs to even begin debating what they could have thrown in their place.
Often attempted by bands and labels to draw in old and new fans alike, brand new hit singles may be introduced with best-ofs. For The Places Between, this promotional single is “Andalucia,” a fast-paced number in Doves’ typical gloomy-meets-ecstasy fashion. It’s an excellent addition to Doves’ library, but perhaps the only worthy addition one will find on the two-disc compilation. “Blue Water” is another track that finally broke its studio virginity, as it was previously only heard live. The verdict? It’s achingly similar to “Here It Comes” and achingly unsatisfying. “Drifter” lacks the catchiness that Doves always seemed incapable of not executing with their music. It’s a shame to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially considering the band is on an indefinite hiatus, but with such underwhelming filler added to the second disc, it’s hard not to.
The remainder of the second disc is equally disappointing. The several B-sides from Some Cities and Kingdom of Rust fail to capture the quality, imagination, and innovation of the B-sides from Doves’ hidden gem Lost Sides. The cut-and-dry “The Last Son” is one of the most indistinct and lackluster Doves songs I’ve ever heard. Then there are the alternate versions of various A-side tracks. Half of these selections bear very subtle differences compared to the original album recording, and the other half are hardly “alternate” at all. Do we really need a stripped-down demo version of “Almost Forgot Myself” with no difference other than inferior sound quality? Not as much as we don’t need a live studio performance of “Friday’s Dust,” one of the band’s most unpopular tracks to date. The second disc’s saving grace is “Firesuite (Noise Version),” a sonically courageous B-side from The Man Who Told Everything EP that may leave much reminiscence of early Doves’ exuberance for experimentation.
That said, it’s a 19-track disc that’s meant for diehards. A staunch Doves fan, even I find it overkill and downright unnecessary. But for those who haven’t had the Doves pleasure, The Places Between will certainly introduce new fans to some of the band’s best material, enough to reel them in to their other material. Anyone looking for some Doves beyond the ordinary, bypass the second disc and pick up Lost Sides, a B-side album that conveys precisely why this band has put out a Best Of album.