Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The EXTREMELY welcome return of the Verve
I'm listening to a pre-release leak of the Verve's new album "Forth." After years of wishing and hoping they'd come back -- mostly for Nick McCabe's astonishing guitar playing, he's the last guy I called "hero" on that instrument -- I can officially and firmly report that they are back in spades, and this isn't just fanboy babbling, either.
Because, believe me, I was worried. When I heard "Love Is Noise," the first single, I was -- er, underwhelmed, to say the least. The song is bolstered by possibly the most annoying sample in history and I didn't hear a single bit of guitar playing on the entire song, which depressed me. Frankly? It sounded like singer Richard Ashcroft's solo stuff, which I don't hate, per se, but certainly doesn't inspire the other strong emotion either. I was worried they'd, y'know, gone soft. Gone commercial. Gotten boring.
But no -- they've gone t'other way with it. "Forth" is far more like "Northern Soul" and "Storm In Heaven" than it's even like "Urban Hymns," the hitmaking slab that propelled them into stadium territory. Nick McCabe is not only present, he's forefront, and his guitar rips, shreds, floats, dances, floats in the stratosphere like I'd hoped it would, and Richard Ashcroft shows little sign of the happy domestic bliss (or artistic blase) that's marred his solo albums.
Also: apart from the single, there's very little commercial pandering, here, either. "Noise Epic," for example, is seven minutes of amazing guitar skronk with what sounds like completely improvised lyrics, Mad Richard in top form, and "Appalachian Springs" is yet another seven minutes of floaty, angry psychedelia, as dark as they come, heading towards krautrock territory. Love it. Furthermore -- the one thing that got me down about "Urban Hymns" was the overabundance of "tender acoustic ballads," as lovely as they were. Here? We get "Valium Skies," which is, well, dark, and about drugs. Tender it ain't, really. I'm in.
I'd pass you all a link, but that's illegal.