Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Verve - Forth (2008)

I have my reservations about anyone, musician or not, who takes a long extended absence from anything, especially at a relative zenith in their craft, returns and immediately resumes chugging like nothing had ever happened. Ever shoot a firearm accurately? Learn a foreign language proficiently? Finally get sweep picking down? Now stop for about a decade and then resume where you left off for the fuck of it. This is more or less what the Verve did, except they really didn't quit music -- just each other. When I did this with guitar, I was duly impressed at how righteously horrible I was. The reason I say this is because hopefully you are following my thought process -- which is to say, if you've been reading in-between the lines, that I'm unconsciously hyping this album up for myself. Shall I be disappointed? Yes and no.

Yes, because a part of me wanted this album to be better than Urban Hymns. Every album they made got successively better -- why should this be an exception? No, because this is still a pretty good album, for a variety of reasons, none of them being mind-blowing, but still reasons nonetheless; and besides, these fellows sure seem damn happy doing it. The shortest song, an anthemic ballad called "Valium Skies," is 4:34; everything else clocks in well above five, six, seven and even eight minutes. Why, that is such horrid poo-poo nonsense! Who do they think they are making me listen for that long? Because the Verve have always been best when allowed to stretch; and within these songs, they do just that, peeling away an amalgam of sound layers in a loose, semi-jam fashion very akin to a live setting. I always felt like the Verve were the visual equivalent of playing with crayons: ignoring lines, scribbling oodles of non-linear color whilst hand-smearing their creations with cookie crumbs and without a care in the world.

Just a few quick remarks: "Sit And Wonder" is the opener and a better song couldn't have been picked to start the album. I think it's highly reminiscent of Northern Soul material, but still very good. "Love Is Noise" is an iffy track, partially because this is quite frankly a Richard Ashcroft solo album leftover; that synth is kind of aggravating and it feels like -- Chris Martin. Nuff said, for those who know me. "Noise Epic" has such a furiously good ending. "Rather Be" is neurotically addictive, and "Judas" is a damn beautiful song. All in all, a pretty good return to the music scene with a disc closer to Storm In Heaven than Urban Hymns, but regardless, welcome back boyos. B-


taotechuck said...

I'm going to be reviewing a Richard Ashcroft album over at Pratt Songs on Friday. I'm really glad to see that all the magic hasn't gone out of the fellow, because the solo album I heard was... well, to compare it to Coldplay would be kinder than it deserves.

The Mad Hatter said...

Well no matter which one it is, it certainly isn't going to bode well for Mr. World Music.

Starrlight said...

Love is Noise is ok but yeah I get where you are going with the Martian comment. Although to be fair and strictly staying in the time line of music history, it sounds like Ashcroft imitating Chris imitating Ashcroft with a soupcon of U2 for spice.

And I LOVE Storms in Heaven so that similarity works for me. The Verve is my ultimate lower my anger level band.

The Mad Hatter said...

Yeah, we must remember Chris is a composite of everyone before him. Hopefully Ashcroft was just using Chris's head on his way back upwards, more as a marker and not indicative of any kind of affinity.

Starrlight said...

Agreed. Ashcroft, to me at least, has more in common with the Gallagher boys (including his looks) and Blur and U2.

Stylistically the The Verve are Eno without the Eno =)

The Mad Hatter said...

Roxy Music, his work with Fripp and sometimes U2 -- otherwise, I'm quite tired of Eno. Completely fucking overrated. Who needs him anyway? Coldplay, certainly. You know you're on the shitting end of things when you are cited for wrecking a project. Ok, that's my opinion. Whatever. Fuck pop.

d.edlen said...

"fellows sure seem damn happy doing it" says it. Have you seen them live this last go-round? Ecstatic would be more like it. Si was a fucking nut at the Roundhouse in London. And that group hug.

All growed up they now appreciate the deal. But apparently it wasn't there choice to split somehow. They're still not saying anything, but now Richard's gotta do a couple more solo albums to fulfill a contract. No wonder they're in that group to force labels to make contracts more conducive to actual creativity.

Thanks for making me think about seeing Gravity Grave live... holy shit that was amazing...


The Mad Hatter said...


No, I haven't seen them live. More than any other band I really have tried to (since you never quite know with them). Hopefully they really do appreciate what's happening and can churn out some more awesome music.