Forth (W/Cd)


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Review Text If ever a band seemed poised for a triumphant comeback it's the Verve, the space rock band that imploded just after the success of its third album, 1997's Urban Hymns. The Verve always acted as if their greatness was self-evident and preordained, that it was only a matter of time for the rest of the world to come around and acknowledge their majesty, so when they finally began to conquer the globe with Bitter Sweet Symphony it felt like a logical conclusion to their rise, which only meant their sudden implosion felt anticlimactic, as if the movie ended before the final reel unspooled. Unlike some bands, it seemed necessary for the Verve to re-form so they could complete their story, to prove that their success was no fluke -- but it was equally true that for lead singer Richard Ashcroft a reunion was also necessary, as his solo career drifted aimlessly on murmured cryptic confessionals supported by listless acoustic guitars. He needed a jolt of energy from a real rock band, especially one powered by guitarist Nick McCabe, who wasn't really doing much of anything anyway, so it seemed natural for the bandmembers to set aside their differences -- differences that led to a split way back in the '90s, after the release of 1995's A Northern Soul -- to reunite for 2008's Forth. Picking up precisely where Urban Hymns left off, Forth is stately and sweeping, an album where the rockers are as slow and deliberate as the ballads. Apart from the cacophonic wailing hook and glitzy club beat of the lead single, "Love Is Noise," there is only familiarity here, rather than dissonance or shock. Forth finds our characters ten years older but not all that wiser, with songwriting that isn't as sharp as it was on Urban Hymns, but at least there's not an emphasis on hushed introspection, but rather the band in all its slow, roiling glory. This reliance on sighing waves of guitars -- pulsating relentlessly like a sepia-toned lava lamp -- might recall the heyday of A Northern Soul in its intent, but in practice this is like the trippier moments of Hymns. The music is spacious and pretty, grounded by an Ashcroft who has lost his madness and a band that is finding its groove again. Forth may not expand on the past or suggest the future, but it doesn't detract from the established story either. It's pleasant, even comforting, which makes Forth as pure a sequel as possible; it's an album that offers more of the same, which will be enough for the legions of faithful who have waited to hear all the old characters back together again. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

Record: 1

  1. 1. Sit and Wonder
  2. 2. Love Is Noise
  3. 3. Rather Be
  4. 4. Judas
  5. 5. Numbness
  6. 6. I See Houses
  7. 7. Noise Epic
  8. 8. Valium Skies
  9. 9. Columbo
  10. 10. Appalachian Springs

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