is a title that may suggest a band striding majestically into the future, but The Verve’s latest effort is little more than the band looking smugly over their shoulder. But, bearing in mind the strength of their back catalogue, this isn’t as bad as it sounds.
After so many years away, however, you’d have been forgiven for thinking the band may have developed in some way. Even just a little. But no; ‘Forth’ sees the band revisiting the tried and tested dynamics that saw them become one of the biggest bands of the last decade.
Recent single, for example, ‘Love Is Noise’ is plucked straight out of the mid 90s. With its euphoric and semi-danceable drive, and ‘ooh oohs’ vaguely reminiscent of a small town nightclub, it sees the band at their most bombastic but at no means at their best.
The epically confident trio of hits on the album, ‘Sit And Wonder’, ‘Valium Skies’ and ‘Noise Epic’, meanwhile, are all so typically Verve, hard on the outside and gooey in the middle, it makes you question why on Earth they ever decided to quit it in the first place.
On the same token, however, the band are so keen to carry on doing what they do best that sometimes the point gets totally lost. ‘Numbness’ is such a useless track that you wonder if they recorded it under that title as some kind of sick joke, whereas ‘I See Houses’ is just a reworked ‘Check The Meaning’, which is fine, but totally necessary in 2008? We’re not convinced.
This is very much The Verve revisiting their comfort zone and re-testing the water. This proves that they’ve still got it, but whether they want to still have it in years to come remains to be seen.
The band’s relationship seemed fraught at the recent V Festival in comparison to the way they confidently swaggered across the Pyramid Stage way back in, erm, June. The thing with The Verve is, no matter if this album was a 10/10, you’d still be unsure if they really meant it.
‘Forth’ may be a misleading title, but the band have certainly covered all of the necessary bases to convince the haters that their reformation was worthwhile. Now, it would seem, the problem lies in what to do next.