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3.6 out of 5 stars73
3.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 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.
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on 26 August 2008
A great album and a great return for the Verve. Not as many stand-out, memorable tracks as Urban Hymns, but there are plenty of great tunes here. The opening tracks "Sit And Wonder" and "Love Is Noise" are classic Verve songs. And the final track "Appalachian Springs" is a beautifully written masterpiece. The rest of the album is also full of great soundscapes. Needs playing through from start to finish a few times before it really sinks in!

The bonus DVD is a nice little extra, but could have been better. The "Space & Time: The Verve Documentary" isn't really much of an insightful documentary. It's only 25 minutes of Nick & Simon saying how great it is to be back playing again after 10 years, interspersed with voxpop clips of fans saying how great it is the band are back together again, and short clips of live performances from the 2007/08 tour. More enjoyable is "The Verve: Live At Coachella, April 2008" which consists of the five tracks: Sonnet, This Is Music, The Rolling People, Lucky Man and Love Is Noise. These are all great live performances, especially Lucky Man and Love Is Noise. However it would have been nice to see more of the gig than just these 5 tracks.
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on 27 April 2009
"Forth" brings The Verve back with a bang, bringing in new fans whilst retaining old. "Love is Noise", the first single, is the kind of driving anthem that will stick in your head for weeks. "Rather Be" (the second single) is another catchy tune, however it does sound like it would be on Ashcroft's solo material,circa 2002. It is however, a good, solid single. Other tracks that impress are "Numbness"; a slow drifting tune with that lovely raw edge the band had in the early days,and "Columbo"; a rocking, psychedelic epic that encapsulates the essence of the band. Special mention has to go to the beautiful "Valium Skies" - well worth a listen.
"Forth" is a step forward for the band, combining experimentalism with the trustworthy blueprint and well worth purchasing.
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on 1 March 2009
First time I heard it I thought, "Richard Ashcroft solo, with a few psychedelic touches". Tenth time I heard it, the subtleties started to appear. Give it time and it will work its way into your psyche. Not an Urban Hymns (thankfully) not a Richard A solo effort (even more thankfully) more like a continuation of the first Verve album, with hints of the later stuff to spice things up. I mean, when you look at what Oasis are doing these days and check out some of the dross that's about, you can't slate this record too heavily. But, let's not be relativist about this - Forth is a good album in its own right, despite the dodgy pun in the title. The cover's nice too.
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on 19 December 2008
So yet again the band are no more, a law should be passed that forces these guys to get together every now and then and record more Thaw Sessions...when we first heard that track (well maybe the 3rd time) it was exciting to have this band back flowing out of our speakers...personally i still get lost in that track and shake my head in amazement that 4 individuals can just get in a room after 9 years and just feel from each other and create such music from nowhere...this is music! Yet when Forth came out I wrote a fairly scathing review here calling the record dull, I couldn't play a full track without wanting to skip it or just turn the record off; initially it felt like too many bland Aschroft songs with a better backing band.
Now for whatever reason I seem to love this album and have been playing it on near constant repeat. Its quite possible that in part I have over listened to The Verve except maybe Urban Hymns where only Catching the Butterfly & Neon Wilderness held some mystery and wonderment for me - the reason I love the band. So anyway, my brain was wrong; Forth is a great album and like Northern Soul it feels like a complete Verve album.

Sit and Wonder is a great opener, really moody yet uplifting...much much better live but really which Verve song isn't better live?
Love is Noise is a big sounding song, I had no time for this on first hearing the single and my expectations for the album dropped considerably. Though the track is a fairly basic and cheesy song I have for whatever reason grown to really enjoy it.
Rather Be. Again on first hearing the song I wrote it of as Ashcroft solo material, I was surprised this was a choice for single number two as its not all that exciting, but in the context of the record as a whole its sits nicely and unlike the singles from Urban Hymns it doesnt grate on your nerves.
Judas. This is the band I love, wonderful bass playing; i'll even let the double latte lyric slide.
Numbness. Woah, a really great depressing song that sounds like it could have been a bside from Northern Soul (NOTE: a Verve bside is often the best stuff). There is a nice section where they build speed a tad before dropping back down.
I See Houses. Another Ashcroft track that for some reason I cant get enough of - age im guessing. I first heard I small clip from them playing this live at the Eden Project, I prefer that version as the bass line pounds along and you can see and hear that Ashcroft is really feeling the song when he sings 'murder, trouble and strife; turning me into a another guy', a great uplifting downer song.
Noise Epic. When my friend and I first got our box sets we had heard this song was an all out sonic attack, back then it just sounded clumpy, cheesy and juvenile with a heavy bit just attached to the end, I still stand by that that but at the same time I have grown to like this song; it acts like a natural divider to end the 1st half of Forth.
Valium Skies. Another reviewer brilliantly pointed out that the guitar line sounds like its taken from Crossroads, its damn true! Another Ashcroft track that goes to show how important the band are in raising the level of his material because as it turns out this is a lovely song.
Columbo. Like me The Verve love Columbo and write a song about about the lieutenant...maybe. Another song that displays the band I freaking love, its dreamy and drifting the perfect backdrop for Nick McCabe to add his paint to the canvas.
Ma Ma Soul. 1 of 2 vinyl only tracks, an OK song sounds like a Cast song, not a bad thing but I don't think this really fits on the record, should have been a bside over the many stronger bsides...Chic Dub, All Night Long!
Muhammad Ali. 2nd vinyl track, Ashcroft sounds like stoned Elvis fronting a more stoned James Brown band - this is no bad thing; great song.
Appalachian Springs. Unlike other reviewers im not under the opinion that this is a great song or a great end to the record and again some really ropey lyrics this time about a bingo caller calling number 69 to which Ashcroft replies 'OK' this probably has meaning but I cant help cringe. But yet again I've grown into this song a lot - but really Stormy Clouds/Reprise is a way to end a record.

Whatever happens to the band now I am really glad the band made this record, for me its a better ending than Urban..truer to the spirit of the band (dark, dreamy and full of hope). If they every read this id like to apologise for my previously rash review. As a side note for others - its really worth tracking down some of Forth's bsides and out takes - All Night Long, Major Force and Blue Pacific Ocean are great organic sounding songs and serve as an indication what could have been...oh well.
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VINE VOICEon 4 September 2008
First off, don't expect Urban Hymns and certainly don't expect this to be anything like their early stuff. This comes across very much as a progression from Urban Hymns in fact try to imagine what Ashcroft's solo album could have sounded like and you are starting to get the idea of what to expect.

Problem is, after Urban Hymns there will be many out there who will just expect a re-hash of that but you are much better off expecting musical development because that is exactly what you will find here. The Verve are no Oasis who just churn out the same thing again and again (Powerful opening, ironic nostalgic 3rd track, Southern rock influenced 5th track, faster punkier 7th track, Beatles re-hash 9th track and album fillers for the rest) The Verve are not afraid to experiment with their music, the track "Judas" has all the potential of a classic and to be honest I am glad to have heard it here on the album before it gets played to death on the radio like "Lucky man" did.

Its not so much that the first 2 or 3 tracks are the best and the rest fail to deliver. Rather its that some of them are slightly more mellow. In a way Storm in Heaven was a bit like this.

Definitely one I will be putting on the ipod and playing on the way to work, listening to of an evening an basically, one I recommend.
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VINE VOICEon 3 September 2008
It is easy to be harsh about 'Forth'. We have waited so long for it, that i think we almost expected magic and brilliance to shimmer out of our hifi's at the first play.

Positive stuff first, this album does have it's high points. It certainly starts strongly with the standout tracks being 'Sit and Wonder', 'Rather Be', 'Judas', 'Valium Skies' and 'Love is Noise', which I think will in retrospective be a great track, once it has stopped being played non stop by day time radio. However the rest of it feels a bit unfinished, in particular 'Numbness' and 'Noise Epic' which don't seem to go anywhere slowly, and 'I see houses' frankly, shouldn't be on any Verve album.

Some have said that 'Forth' sounds bit too much Richard Ashcroft and not enough Verve. Although I have never been a critic of Richard's solo releases, because they were his project and not the Verve, it would have been nice to have a greater distinction between the two for this album.

To be fair to the boys from Wigan, it would have been one of the greatest comebacks of all time by any band if after a 10 year break, they had returned with an album stronger than, or as strong as their previous albums. They haven't done that, but the world of music is a better place now they are here once again. I look forward to the next one.
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on 2 September 2008
I've listened to this album over 6 six times now. Being a Verve fan (who loves all their work) I've tried to like this album, I really have, but I must be honest with myself & admit that's it's pretty poor.

From a Verve fan's point of view this album is only interesting because you can hear all the tensions in band.

- You can tell when Ashcroft & McCabe were getting on with songs like "Sit And Wonder", "Valium Skies" & "Appalachian Springs".

- You can tell when they weren't talking with songs like "Judas", "Numbness" & "Columbo".

- & you can tell when they've just given up & Ashcroft has quickly brought in his own stuff like "Rather Be" & "I See Houses".

Now I know all Verve albums require multiple listens to get the most out of them, so it's not like I've rushed to judgements with Forth. But lets be honest here, Forth is their weakest album. Oddly the album is over produced & yet some songs are under developed, "Noise Epic" being the best example of this.

What's annoying is that for years Richard Ashcroft's solo career has been panned where now Forth is being hyped up, yet there's songs on this album that could easily be on any Richard Ashcroft record.

Lets be honest here if this album was called "Richard Ashcroft - Forth" would anyone give a damn about this album? For those of you who can't be honest with yourself let me tell you the answer is.... NO!!!!
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on 30 December 2008
the verves comeback after a decade away is an album that seems to have divided fans.i think its great to have them back,nick mccabe is a genius and ashcrofts voice is better than ever.love is noise is a great kick start to their comeback,and a surprising one too,the danciest record they have made.the soothing and mellow judas and valium skies,along with rather be is the verve at their most laid back and sounds a lot like their early pre urban hymns days.best track though is sit and wonder its amzing with mcabes explosive guitars working up a deep,dark groove,easily the best song of the year and if evidence the verve reforming was a good thing this is it.if you have a record player its worth buying the rather be singles backed up by new songs all night long and major force these would have made the album even better they are great.also doing the rounds on the net is an unreleased song 'blue pacific ocean' its as good as anything they have ever done,psychedelic and mellow lets hope it gets a release soon.after lots of hyped up bands who fail to deliver - kings of leon,snow patrol and keane its great to see the verve back lets hope we dont wait to long on album no 5.
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on 7 September 2008
Verve have always had a few classic songs scattered amongst some average melodic mood pieces. This time, there are more elevated choral sounds and certainly more soul than previous attempts. Its is more Northern Soul than Urban Hymns and that is a very very good thing. McCabe's guitar still sings beautifully in the background of most songs thankfully - an element always sadly missing from Ashcroft's solo material.

If you read reviews from Verve fans professing to be from long standing fans, you would wonder what they were hoping for - its been nearly 20 years since they formed and I would be surprised if their sound hadn't moved on. Rather Be & Valium Skies are lovely and catch the attention straight away. Other songs are less immediate and need more plays - a complexity that has already been part of The Verve's appeal. I wonder if those that gave it 3* will elevate their scores in a few months time?

Buy it and play late at night with the lights low - just after Northern Soul.
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