It's quite telling that of the fifteen songs selected forÂ The Places Between: The Best Of Doves
, nine of them are culled from the Mancunian bands first two records. Granted, bothÂ Lost Souls
andÂ The Last Broadcast
are stellar albums in their own right, but only including six songs written within the last eight years (taking into account the ho-hum brand new track 'Andalucia') on a career spanning collection hints at the fact that your best years might indeed be behind you. Which is a shame, really, since the tracks gathered here really highlight how original and stirring Doves are when hitting on all cylinders. But for a band that has always been interested in crafting a tangible theme and mood with each of their records, a package like this can't help but sound a bit random; packed with massive singles, no doubt, but ultimately leaving the listener with no further insight into the bands lasting legacy, modest beginnings or their future direction. Sure, it represents everything that took place between points A and B, as the title alludes to, but instead of feeling like we're in motion with the band (as you clearly do when listening to Doves albums), this set sounds too fixed in one place to shed any new light on the method and movement of the resilient three-piece.Those hoping for any new tracks or hidden gems besides the aforementioned 'Andalucia' would be best served seeking out the three-disc set, which features a disc worth of rare tracks as well as a DVD collecting their
videos. But for the single-disc collection, there are unfortunately very few surprises mixed in with the hits. The hypnotic stomp of 'There Goes The Fear' gets the album off to a strong start, and remains perhaps the best of all Doves material. It's a swirling, atmospheric gem that still holds up remarkably well, and surely will continue to in the future, as fans have more time and distance to take a truer look back at the anxious sound of England around the turn of the century. That recognizable tension continues on the booming 'Black And White Town,' one of the finest songs in recent memory that could truly inspire someone to move away from a bad situation, at least since Pavement's 'Box Elder.' But as the disc goes on, it becomes more predictable and inevitably loses a bit of its bombast, as songs like 'Here It Comes,' 'Words' and 'Kingdom Of Rust' stand out simply because you're hearing them on the same album for the first time.Doves have always been good at easing the listener into the heart of their music, and these songs are all clear examples of why fans of their sound hold them so dear. But on a collection such as this one, the lingering moods of their albums are sacrificed for a more expansive overview of their career, which reduces the impact of their carefully selected original running order. So it's a bit jarring (perhaps intentionally so) to hear the dynamic 'Pounding' follow the relative tranquility of 'Sea Song.' And '10:03' is a bit of an odd choice, and doesn't work as well at fitting in seamlessly with the older material as the other two songs selected fromÂ Kingdom Of Rust,
especially 'Jetstream,' which is given an added pulse by being placed immediately after the high-powered, addictive thrust of 'Catch The Sun.'Things get a bit sleepy after that (which tends to happen on recent Doves records), before the lovely closing combination of the ethereal 'Caught By The River' and the anthemic 'The Cedar Room,' which started it all for the band. Any true fans of the group will not only have these songs in their collection already, but should have them all committed faithfully to memory. So if you're looking for surprises definitely head to the rarities disc, for everything here is pretty familiar stuff. ButÂ The Places Between
offers clear evidence that not only have Doves crafted some truly uplifting, soaring songs that stand the test of time a lot better than those of their contemporaries and peers, but also that the band is still evolving into a sound that is bound to take the listener somewhere promising. So a retrospective, while entirely appropriate given Doves steady and stellar output, comes off as a bit premature, especially for a band that still hopefully has plenty of fight left in them.