The Verve are back with their fourth release after separating and reuniting.
“Sit and Wonder” – Meandering through a song that has many pieces and at the same time still keeps your attention from the beginning to the end. “I’ve been having trouble tonight Lord/ I’ve been having demons in my mind Lord/ Some things going on inside my head Lord.” This is seven minutes of bliss. It’s no “Bittersweet Symphony” but it wasn’t intended to be.
“Valium Skies” – At first this song didn’t grab me and then all of the sudden it was the one track that I kept playing and singing and then it spiraled of control to the point of memorizing every word. Richard Ashcroft showcases his brilliant ability of stretching syllables into sustained beauty.
“Rather Be” – In the sweet spot of the album comes one of my favorite songs. The melody is gorgeous is another Verve meets the Rolling Stones flavors to it. “Sometimes life seems to tear us apart/ And I don’t wanna let you go/ Sometimes these feelings hidden /I start to cry ’cause I won’t ever let you go.”
“Love is Noise” – This is the closest the Verve get on this album to a hit single. It’s not a forced song simply to be a pop-rock hit. It has soul unlike most rock songs these days: “Will those feet in modern times/walk on soles that are made in China?” This is the surprise song of the entire album and at first it didn’t seem like a great song and then after a few listens it started to have a U2-epic feel to it.
“Judas” – Such an amazingly light and heavenly song that floats high above the clouds featured on the album cover. As always the lyrics paint a wonderful picture while the music lays a beautiful tapestry for it to live.
“I See Houses” – The lyrics may not be as good as it’s predecessors and yet the chorus absolutely grabs me and never escapes my mind no matter how hard I try: “I get this feeling that I’ve been here before /How many lives will I waste/ How many tears must I taste before my freedom.”
“Numbness” – The song takes a long time to get to the pay off as Ashcroft makes his siren call “love is on my brain.”
“Noise Epic” – This is the only miss. The spoken word style that Ashcroft incorporates destroys the song even though the chorus isn’t half bad–that is if the words would have sounded more fleshed out. It sounds like Ashcroft is making it up as he goes along.
“Urban Hymns” is one of the best albums released in the last ten years and many of these songs would fit comfortably on that album. That’s not the sign of a band who has lost their touch rather a band who are still one of the best in the world. It seems Richard Ashcroft has spent the last two solo albums trying to recreate the hit “Bittersweet Symphony” and has finally come to the realization that it isn’t him. Ashcroft finally feels at home again with his gang of merry musical marauders and the absolutely brilliant “Forth.”
Watch the video for “Love is Noise”