Released: Aug 25, 2008
Genre: Alternative Rock, Space Rock
Number Of Tracks: 10
The Verve's first full-length album in more than 10 years often sounds more like a spaced-out jazz jam session than a set of rock songs.
UG Team, on september 01, 2008 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: It's been about 10 years since The Verve has released a full-length album of material, and the Wigan, England, natives are back with a dreamy, yet often exhausting CD that is heavy on the epics. Forth delivers atmospheric instrumentation and various sound effects throughout pretty much the entire record, which although fascinating at times, does tend to feel like you're sitting in on a long, experimental jam session. The opening track Sit And Wonder immediately has a hazy, cinematic feel to it, complete with plenty of reverb and vocalist Richard Ashcroft's laid-back vocals. There is a cool, effects-enhanced solo about midway through, and it is easily the highlight of the track. But even though Sit And Wonder runs about 7 minutes long, it never goes that many dramatic places. Most of the tracks on Forth do tend to run around the 7-minute mark and usually follow a similar formula to the opener.
The first single off the album Love Is Noise, stands out for it's oddly intriguing vocal samples that are scattered throughout, and those admittedly do give the song a unique style. Love Is Noise is not necessarily the best track on the album, and more often than not suffers from being repetitive. It's shorter in length (about 5 minutes) and does have a memorable chorus, but it's one of the more disappointing tracks on Forth. The Verve is at it's best with Noise Epic, which continues to go in various musical directions throughout it's 8 minutes. Ashcroft tries out his spoken word for a good deal of the track, and although it's still fairly mellow musically, the tempo does pick up a few minutes into the song. The bass line is more prominent in Noise Epic, as well as the track Columbo, and that grooving rock sound works best for The Verve.
Most of the tracks do feel improvised at times, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. You almost get the feeling that you're sitting in a rehearsal space as the musicians lay down whatever inspires them at the moment. It's an intriguing listen, but there are more than a few moments on the album that feel drawn out or repetitive. // 7
Lyrics: There is almost a stream of consciousness feel to the lyrics on Forth, but Ashcroft does deliver some thought-provoking lines throughout. The single Love Is Noise does feature some of the more descriptive lines with Ashcroft singing, Will those feet in modern times; Walk on soles that are made in China? Feel the bright prosaic malls; And the corridors that go on and on and on. There are also times when you're asking, What exactly is he talking about? Case in point is Judas, in which Ashcroft sings, New York, I was Judas; She said 'A latte, double shot for Judas,' Cry for the things that happen, people need to know. Some of the lyrics do leave you scratching your head, but in an odd way they also suit the unconventional format of the music. // 8
Overall Impression: The Verve has taken another step away from the days when their radio-friendly Bittersweet Symphony filled the airwaves. It does seem like they're in a jazzier state of mind, often jamming out whatever compels them at that moment. It's an interesting, often hypnotic listening experience, but at times the songs take too long to go anywhere. Forth is a pretty unique album in any case, and Verve fans will probably still embrace the unpredictable creative freedom that is ever-present on the album. // 7
illinoize88, on september 01, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: It's a new decade for the reunited Verve, but will the radio still play the songs they make? The Verve broke up for the second and seemingly last time in 1999 soon after guitarist Nick McCabe left the band due to personal friction with singer Richard Ashcroft. The next eight years saw three mediocre and rather bland solo albums from Ashcroft, a Damon Albarn/Gorillaz collaboration for bassist Si Jones, a temporary drumming job in BRMC for Peter Salisbury, and some very low key collaborations for McCabe. It looked as if The Verve would never play together again. Ashcroft went so far as to say that one would see all four Beatles playing together than all four members of The Verve. Then in June of 2007, the unthinkable happened and The Verve announced their reunion. Following a half year of performing acclaimed gigs at Glastonbury and T in the Park, the Verve are ready to release their fourth album, entitled 'Forth' to the listening public.
With 'Forth', one gets a sonic combination of the previous three Verve albums. The ten songs cover everything from the early-Verve jams of 'A Storm in Heaven' to the bombast and balladry of 'Urban Hymns'. Like most Verve albums, the standouts are McCabe, Jones, and Salisbury. McCabe is unique in his ability to create guitar sounds and layers that are remarkable, while Jones and Salisbury are about as good a rhythm section around. // 9
Lyrics: The weak spot of the record is Ashcroft. The same dull, dreary attitude displayed on his solo efforts is present here. Ashcroft in his early days was a shamanic frontman-living and breathing every word he sang. You could feel his jubilation, his stoned detachment, and his pain. However, something happened to him after the success of 'Urban Hymns', Ashcroft now views himself in the classic singer/songwriter mold, complete with dull lyrics and softly strummed guitars. Yes, Ashcroft can still bang out a stand out chorus, but he rarely comes up with a verse nowadays that is anywhere near as powerful as even his lesser songs from Urban Hymns. Listen to Numbness or I see Houses for point illustrations.
One redeeming quality for Ashcroft is that his voice is better than ever. Sit and Wonder and Appalachian Springs are excellent examples of the power Ashcroft's voice had. I just wish he had something to say these days. // 5
Overall Impression: The album has no absolute standout track, like every previous Verve album, but it does offer up some very strong songs. Sit and Wonder is a epic opening track, similar in vein to 'The Rolling People' off of Urban Hymns. Lead single 'Love Is Noise' has an incredibly catchy chorus and a vocal loop that, while annoying, gets under your skin. 'Rather Be' is an anthem with a hook that would not be out of place on 'Urban Hymns'. Closing song Appalachian Springs finds the Ashcroft/McCabe dynamic working at it's best, with vocals and guitar work that'll hit all the emotional chords. However, the rest of the songs seemed either half-finished or Ashcroft solo material that he managed to get bump on to the album. If I could recommend something to the Verve, it would be to record an album live in studio, because they sound their best when feeding off each others sounds. They bring out the best in each other this way. I hope 'Forth' is just the warm-up album before another classic Verve album. By no means a step back, it just seems like The Verve needs some time to shake off the dust. // 7