Whenever a band you love gets back together after a long hiatus it’s a mixed bag. It’s exciting to hear more music from an old favorite, but post-hiatus output is usually a letdown (Portishead’s brilliant Third being a rare exception), and The Verve’s new album, Forth, is no different. It’s by no means terrible, however fans didn’t wait over a decade for something that’s just “listenable”. Where the band once bravely dove headfirst into uncharted territories of epic psychedelia, they’ve mellowed with age and lost the fire that propelled them to great heights.
Richard Ashcroft’s distinct voice is still there, but it’s missing the charisma that made him a star in the first place. The rest of the band sounds like they’re trying to get back up to speed, rather than playing at the top of their game. The producer too has a lot to answer for by pushing the guitar into the background on far too many of the songs. You can point fingers (I just did), but Forth’s lackluster sound boils down to boring material. There are too many sub-par songs like “Judas” and “I See Houses”, which sound like rejects from one of Ashcroft’s lame solo albums. The only time they recapture a bit of the old magic is on the frenzied final two-minutes of “Noise Epic”. If only the other 58 minutes were as good.