Album Review: The Verve – Forth

By on Tuesday, 26th August 2008 at 10:10 pm

Like The Police and Pink Floyd, their reunion was anticipated for many years. They gave us the soundtrack to the 90’s and their classic anthem Bittersweet Symphony still gives a nation goosebumps a decade on. They’ve had their ups and downs, their break-ups and make-ups, but they’re back. For now, at least.

So, what of The Verve‘s comeback album?

Sadly, I wouldn’t hold your breath. It seems Richard Ashcroft decided not to hold his either because Forth, the latest offering from The Verve, is one long medley of melancholy music where one track ends and another begins without you even noticing. With many songs approaching the seven-minute mark, are they a brooding work or art? Or should we assume that the lads were so completely out of it that somebody forgot to press STOP?

Bands release their albums to coincide with a season or a celebration. Christmas for a ‘Best Of’ perhaps. Or Summer for a feel-good jam. But for these Wigan lads, it was the start of the football season that saw the release of their fourth album. And why? Because the timing is all part of their campaign to target, “The 25 to 44-year-old male-based market with a strong Northern regionality.”

But somehow, I don’t see United fans singing this album from the terraces. There are only four standout tracks for me and the rest fade into the background.

‘Love Is Noise’ see’s Ashcrofts tormented vocals and Nick McCabe’s experimental guitar come together and give us something truly rockin’. “Will those feet in modern times walk on soles that were made in China through the black prosaic malls,” sings Ashcroft. His lyrics have come a long way in a decade, you’ve got to admit. This song got a marvellous reception at Glastonbury this year.

Opening track ‘Sit and Wonder’ is a Wonder of its own, building from a menacing crackle to a dark and dangerous climax. The chorus where Ashcroft demands, “Give me some life” over and over is sure to be stuck in your head.

Then the soulful ‘Rather Be’, the head-nodding tune with the orchestrated melody. Forget Ashcrofts dreary lyrics, this is perhaps the most uplifting song on the album. ‘Judas’ has a certain lightness about it too, even if this one does plod towards the six-minute mark.

Forget save the best ’til last, this quartet of songs are certainly the best on the album. After these, The Verve sidle comfortably back into their default position: psychadelic dirge rock.

‘Numbness,’ ironically, will induce exactly what it says on the tin and ‘Columbo’ is more mind numbing than murder mystery. After what seems like a lifetime, ‘Appalachian Strings,’ at a grand total of 7:32 is a calming and spiritual come-down to the album if a little dull.

The music is directionless but I hate to admit that there is still something undeniably hypnotic about this album. It is safe but not outstanding. A little bit disappointing for the comeback of the year.

This is no Urban Hymns.

If you want songs you will remember for ten years, I’d re-think your purchase. But if you want The Verve at their most intense and experimental, go Forth and buy this album.

Forth, on Parlophone records, is out now.

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One Response

2:12 pm
28th August 2008

Excellent your introduction to Forth…I’m share the same ideas.
Great disc of Ashcroft once again.


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