(On Your Own/Megaforce)
The prospect of a new Verve album is a “hope-for-the-best/prepare-for-the-worst proposition,” said Josh Modell in The Onion. The British psychedelic rock band came out of the 1990s with one hit song, “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” but didn’t make it much further. The volatile relationship between frontman Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe caused the Verve to break up not once but twice. That Forth, its first record in more than a decade, even exists is a sort of miracle. What’s more astounding is that it “proves the Verve still has it.” A soul-stirring collection, Forth sounds like “all eras of the Verve mashed together into one potent stew. The album contains several “exhilarating” tracks, said Maddy Costa in the London Guardian. The opener, “Sit and Wonder,” evolves from a “menacing crackle into an electrical storm.” “Appalachian Springs” plays like a prayer, with Ashcroft’s tender balladry leading the meditation. But only one song clocks in at less than five minutes, and most are needlessly long and “directionless.” Forth benefits from what is undeniably the “most solid foundation this quartet has had in 15 years,” said Paul Stokes in New Musical Express. Yet it seems that their egos once again got in the way of editing.