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Doves have been pegged as a smarter Oasis by the British music press, but Lost Souls’ liner-note dedication to deceased Joy Division manager Rob Gretton hints at the Mancunian trio’s true identity. Only “Catch the Sun” kicks out the jams Definitely Maybe-
style; the rest of Doves’ three-years-in-the-making debut fractures modern guitar-rock into glittering shards of funk, folk, dance, and dream-pop. And aside from that atypical piece of radio-friendly Britpop and the sunlight-streaming-through-the-clerestory moments of “Melody Calls” and “The Cedar Room,” the sounds on Lost Souls are as dark, elliptical, and Gothic as just about anything on Closer. Indeed, instrumental album opener “Firesuite” processes gloomily Hannettwise, all icy synths, brittle guitars, and spidery piano. But the members of DovesJimi Goodwin and twin brothers Jez and Andy Williamsare far from early-’80s revivalists: “Rise” and bonus track “Darker” dabble in Chapterhouse-style baggy beats; “Here It Comes” and “Lost Souls” evoke A.R. Kane’s overripe funk/noise-pop hybrid, and “Break Me Gently” and “Sea Song,” whose attenuated acoustic-guitar lines are haunted by eerie samples, spacey keyboards, and disembodied, effects-laden vocals, recall Slowdive’s singular Pygmalion album. Williams-Goodwin-Williams’ lyrics, however, are far less ambitious than their music, occasionally dipping into cringingly bald Gallagherisms: “I tried to sleep alone/But I couldn’t do it/You could be sitting next to me/I wouldn’t know it/If I told you you was wrong/I don’t remember saying.” But Lost Souls is so elegantly produced, so satisfyingly hefty, and so full of surprising, delightful contrasts (those awkward lines above, for example, come just when “The Cedar Room” transforms itself from duskily pulsating trancescape to fist-waving rock ‘n’ roll anthem) that the words hardly matter. Leonard Roberge