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.


ashley said...

I'm still kicking my own ass for missing them at the first night of coachella. Nothern Soul ranks pretty highly on my list of favorite albums, so the thought of something new on THAT same caliber has got me all excited.

Legal schmegal. It's only illegal if you tell people you're doing it.

Anonymous said...

Reporting back after round 1 of listening:

This album just put me on a musical cloud. And it's been a long time since I've really geeked out about how good an album was. I have to admit, the first half of the album I just kinda half listened to it. "Rather Be" was good. But the last 4 songs totally made the album for be honest, I haven't heard anything that really moved me in so long. This entire year I've been waiting on someone to make an album that would just make my head explode.

I think this is the album I've been waiting for. I feel inspired, happy and depressed to be alive all at the same time.

Listening to "valium skies," I felt like I should be on drugs, but if I listened to this while on drugs, I might just implode.

And this all on the first listen.

Ok, I need to go calm down and maybe pass out from all the excitement.

And why the heck hasn't anyone else commented on this post yet?


MissTrixi said...

Nobody's heard the record yet, despite the fact that its basically a google-search away!

(also, I think the Verve suffer from a certain stigma in the States -- certain place, certain time, certain britpop backlash, same reason you can't say you like Oasis without getting laughed outta camp, y'know?)

MissTrixi said...

Ha, that was ME posting as HER! I didn't notice she was logged in. Jonny.