23 August 2008

Rolling Stone reviews 'Forth' 4/5

Two of the best psychedelic rock shows I've ever seen were by this British band, in London and New York, in the summer of 1993, and most of the Verve's fourth record — their first after a decade apart — is a return to that whirlpool-guitar, shaman-song form.

"Sit and Wonder" is what they meant by their 1993 album title A Storm in Heaven: the trancelike gallop of bassist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury; guitarist Nick McCabe's creamy distortion and ascending rings of tremolo and feedback; singer Richard Ashcroft's drawling incantation, like Liam Gallagher in Lizard King leather.

The songs skirt standard verse-chorus form; the best of them are just chord patterns that swirl and mutate with slow assurance. In "Judas," McCabe fires bird-cry bursts of twang and threads long, humming lines through Ashcroft's R&B whoops. "Love Is Noise" is smart acid-dance candy notched with a laughing-choir vocal hook. But "Appalachian Springs" gives the best afterglow. Built on the ballad-prayer model of "The Drugs Don't Work" (on 1997's Urban Hymns) and coated in McCabe's melting guitars and Ashcroft's higher-than-you bleating, it is Forth's final track — and most complete trip.

Source: Rolling Stone, David Fricke