The Verve Forth

The Verve Forth
With their return after a nine-year split, the Verve promised an album encapsulating their different phases (from liquid psychedelia to life-affirming Brit rock) into one comeback for the ages, and they actually weren’t full of themselves. Their fourth album finds the Wigan five-piece thankfully living up to that promise, but falling short of "the best album they’ve ever made.” Surprisingly, Forth resembles the band’s seminal second effort, A Northern Soul, most — a lot of the time they ignore their watches, guitarist Nick McCabe turns up his delay/reverb pedals and they jam it out, not unlike last year’s teasing "Thaw Sessions.” Such boundlessness produces glimmering high points like the expansive "Columbo” and "Judas,” an emotionally hazy cut that not only finds a pre-Storm in Heaven groove but also reveals itself as one of their finest songs ever. "Noise Epic,” meanwhile, kicks into overdrive as they indulge in an ambitious, Zeppelin-sized tornado that sounds mammoth and auspicious. But the Verve’s success finds their commercial side getting the best of them. The slick production of single "Love Is Noise” is a shameful bid for new listeners and "Rather Be” feels like Richard Ashcroft couldn’t shake Urban Hymns entirely. In the end, Forth comes out as an unfocused tug of war between Ashcroft’s pop and McCabe’s psychedelia, but the traces of excellence peppered throughout should give us hope that maybe their best is yet to come. (EMI)