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The Verve - Forth
after a long absence
Review by Tony BonyataNearly a decade since parting ways, the Britpop band The Verve have come together to produce their fourth studio release. But rather than regrouping for a quick cash-in like so many other tired rock reunions, the Manchester-band quartet have instead created one of their strongest efforts to date - incorporating their trademark sound of lush, psychedelic pop while never fully re-treading their previous footsteps; hence the album's apropos double-entendre title, Forth.
While there may not be a single song on this effort that soars to the heights of their brilliant single "Bitter Sweet Symphony" from their 1997 breakthrough album Urban Hymns (a song which they nicked the string score from The Rolling Stones' hit "The Last Time"), when Forth is weighed as a whole it's every bit as strong as Urban Hymns. Frontman Richard Ashcroft's vocals are as hauntingly ethereal as ever, and the song craft throughout is a dizzying ride that touches on both mystical and spiritual pop ("Judas," "Rather Be," and the atmospheric opener "Sit And Wonder"), before speeding through the psychedelic rock groove of "Noise Epic," where Ashcroft's muted, stream-of-consciousness vocals lay just below a pool of swirling guitars and slow-burn rhythms.
Without a sense of nostalgia, The Verve also manage to tap into the classic sound of their past on the sweeping arena-ready anthem "Valium Skies" as well as the uplifting "Love Is Noise," which, with its soaring gospel-infused pop, hits the heights of both U2 and Coldplay at the top of their games.
With such a promising effort after such a long absence here's hoping that these guys can stay together long enough to go forth well beyond this album.
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