01 August 2008

The Verve Storms Back On Fourth Album

The Verve roars back to life after an 11-year hiatus between new albums with "Forth," a bracing blend of the experimentalism of the group's early work and the more structured songwriting of its last two efforts.

The set is due Aug. 25 in the U.K. via Parlophone and the following day in North America on the band's On Our Own label, with distribution by RED/Megaforce.

Only one song is less than five minutes long on "Forth," which begins with the seven-minute jam "Sit and Wonder." Atop a big bass groove and foreboding atmospherics, frontman Richard Ashcroft pleads, "Lord, give me the light," setting the table for the single "Love Is Noise," the most electronic track of the Verve's career.

The cut's sampled "woo-hoo" vocal and synths stake out new territory, but rarely have Ashcroft's vocals sounded as raw and angrily passionate. "Love Is Noise" will be released in the U.K. Aug. 4 digitally and Aug. 11 in physical form.

"Forth" is further highlighted by the dreamy "Judas," arguably one of the most beautiful songs the band has yet penned, and the anthemic ballad "Valium Skies," a sure-fire future concert staple which is reminiscent of the hit "Lucky Man" from 1997's "Urban Hymns." "I See Houses" muses on Ashcroft's everyday surroundings while pivoting between the eerie vibes of 1995's "A Northern Soul" and the elegant emoting of "Urban Hymns."

Elsewhere, the Verve stretches out in ways it hasn't since the early 1990s. The eight-minute "Noise Jam" is a propulsive rocker with references to Mother Mary, Steve McQueen and the Rapture, finishing in an explosion of pounding downstrokes, while "Columbo" barrels through several different motifs (slinky, Can-inspired bass lines; early Verve ambience) over the course of seven-and-a-half minutes.

The Verve plays Japan's Summer Sonic festival Aug. 9-10 and the U.K.'s V Festival the following weekend. Fall tour plans have yet to be announced.

Here is the track list for "Forth":

"Sit and Wonder"
"Love Is Noise"
"Rather Be"
"I See Houses"
"Noise Epic"
"Valium Skies"
"Appalachian Springs"

Source: Billboard, Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.