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Decent follow-up to Urban Hymns
on 7 December 2012
In the interim 8 years between The Verve's seminal Urban Hymns and this very belated follow-up the original band re-united and after touring, singer Richard Ashcroft made some pretty good albums as a solo artist, of which I have Alone with Everybody & Keys to the World, both bought in charity shops.
I find Forth a generally good album, but with a few weaker tracks; the first two having that rather lovely wild psychedelic feel, with spacey wailing guitars, interspersed with vocals from Ashcroft very Verve-like. Both are pretty strong tracks and are a good intro to what's to come.
The more song-led third track, Rather Be s is more like Ashcroft's solo stuff, but a great, slower, anthemic song that sort of chugs along nicely. However, the fourth track, Judas, just doesn't do anything or work, is slow and has strings on it, not what I want on a Verve album! A chunky bass comes in to fill the vacuum left by the previous track for Numbness and by its very title, it's obvious Ashcroft wants another spaced-out affair and whilst it ambles along nicely and the guitar adds colour, it's unfortunately rather insipid.
I See Houses has more melodic structure with some interesting sound structures and so is a better track. Noise Epic starts out with some good guitar work before settling into a rock rhythm and chunky bass riff that's worth turning up, whilst the vocals get more Oasis-like and this one, like its title suggests is good for injecting some right noise straight into one's head, via decent headphones. It also gets quite nicely chaotic and frenzied toward the end, as a good Verve track should.
Valium Skies gets plenty of mention in the glossy, colourful booklet, with an excerpt of the lyrics repeated - indeed, a great title and lyric but let down by a not-so-good song. Columbo (after the Peter Falk TV detective, surely not?) is an altogether more interesting song with plenty of ambient space and echoes on the voice and guitars, with another distinctive chunky bass-line. This soon becomes a really good Verve track with Ashcroft free-styling his vocals, amidst the wall of sonic confusion, then the track purposefully changes attitude and marches on, as guitars howl and scream and such. Deliciously trippy!
Finally, Appalachian Springs is an altogether slower and paced number, with bits of interesting instrumentation just where you expect it and it all unfolds very satisfactorily. The song too, is one of the better ones and one is hypnotically lost within in it. A good, if unremarkable way to round off a good, if not great album.