The Cedar Room is seven-and-a-half minutes long. Why? Maybe Doves would answer “Because it has to be”, but that’s obviously nonsense. There’s no lyrical development, no groove to speak of, no big musical build-up, nothing except a four-minute piece of blustery psych-rock stretched out to well beyond its natural limits. Oh, you get the hook a few extra times, and possibly the band used an FX pedal or two more than they would otherwise have done, but that’s really about it. No, the only honest answer to that “Why?” question is “Well, we wanted to show that we were a Big Serious band, and everyone knows that releasing a spuriously epic single is the way to do it nowadays, and now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go and Emote all the way to the bank.”

It’s a shame, really, because “The Cedar Room” is fun for a few minutes – you don’t succeed as handbag house producers (Doves’ prior job, and self-consciousness about it is possibly one reason this record tries so very hard) without knowing your way round a hook, and so this has a stronger chorus than most stadium-indie can muster. It’s still slightly pathetic that people are making music as vague and blowsy and dutifully ‘soaring’ as this in the year 2000 and getting raves for it, but you can’t legistlate against conservatism. British rock has been on a size-matters tip since 1997, and diminishing returns set in long ago: now mildly promising bands like Doves are pissing away their chances of doing anything really special by desperately bulking up their sound like steroid-happy athletes. Their pointless exertions keep this year’s crop of moody University first-years happy, and music carries on happily regardless.

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