Listening to this album is like eating a huge dish of fettucine alfredo. It's good, but it's really rich. After a while, you just can't stomach it any more because it is so rich!
This album doesn't clog the arteries with cheesey goodness, but the music is so rich and multilayered that after awhile i just just get tired of listening to it.
Which leads me to believe that it is wayyyy over-produced. There is so much stuff going on that the songs get messy. Too many layers of voices and guitars and basses and keyboards and drums, and then beneath all of that are indistinct, but still somewhat noticeable (especially on headphones), layers of odd samples -- voices, etc. So i would say that this album is over-produced.
And that says a lot, coming from a rabid Cocteau Twins fan like myself. I can take 14 layers of Elizabeth Fraser's voice, and 17 layers of Robin Guthrie's guitar, and 13 layers of Simon Raymonde's bass with another 8 of his keyboards. I could handle that much depth and layering in a song and not think that it got messy. The secret is that the Twins (and specifically Guthrie, who produced their stuff) never let it get out of hand. Sure, there are 14 layers of voice, but one just adds a hint of echo, another adds just a hint of reverb, etc. Guthrie used the layers to make subtle changes to the overall sound.
The Doves music just seems messy. It's TOO much -- there is too much going on. So let me just repeat this little bit of advice that a sound engineer once gave to a friend of mine when his band went into the studio:
"Just because the mixing board has 24 tracks, it doesn't mean that you have to use all of them!"
The Doves would have done well to listen to this advice.
Now, i said that the music was good, but too rich. I find that if i listen to this album in one sitting, i get bored around track six, and there are still 9 tracks to go! So i have taken to listening to this album in piecemeal -- a track or two here, and then move on to something else. To return to my original analogy, fettucine alfredo is wonderful, but i only eat a little bit of it at a time, combined with some salad and some bread.
Taken apart like this, The Doves have created some really cool songs which will fill the mix tapes that i make for Brendan and the Other Minions for a long time to come. The music tends to be catchy and happy. Good stuff for driving in the car. The vocals are clear (well produced) and easy to sing along with. Again, good for the car.
My favorite so far is The Cedar Room. It starts off with one guitar whirling away in feedback, and one repeating a little riff over and over. Behind it is layered a whole mess cymbols being pounded into little bits. All of this combines to create a nice swirly sort of sound. Really pretty.
I think it's the instrumental bits that really make this album for me. When the guitars are working away, it's really really beautiful. The voice, well i can take it or leave it.
Okay, truth be told i can leave it. Totally. On a few tracks, especially Catch The Sun and The Man Who Told Everything, the vocalist, Jimi Goodwin, sounds like Pat DiNizio from The Smithereens. All i hear is "Bloo-OO-od and Roses"! That might not be such a bad thing -- i really liked The Smithereens when i was in High School. However, well let's just say that a traumatic event in my life occured once whilest Blood And Roses was playing, and i will forever associate Pat DiNizio's voice with being treated bad by some unfaithful woman. There are times on this CD where Mr. Goodwin hits that DiNizio-like sound, and i just start to panic. Sigh. Anyway, that's not really a problem with The Doves. At least, not unless you happen to be a DiNizio-a-phobe, like myself.
Aside from his voice, i really like the music. And aside from those two songs, for the most part his voice is treated with distortion (again, playing with the mixing board!) and i don't notice it so much. Plus, there are plenty of instrumental tracks, like Fioresuite and Reprise. This makes sense since apparently The Doves formed out of the ashes of British electronica-type group Sub Sub. Overall i can listen to the album and not really be bothered by "the DiNizio Effect". And it's easy enough to skip those two songs.
Overall, the album sounds good, in the afore-mentioned small doses. It's all light arpeggios, swirling guitars, little noodling sounds, and competent drumming.
To sum up: this is good music, but it's a little on the over-produced side.