The Verve - Forth
Richard Ashcroft needs Nick McCabe. It was obvious during the recording of Urban Hymns (prior to which the band had broken up, then reformed without the mercurial guitarist), and it's been especially obvious over the course of Ashcroft's three increasingly lackluster solo albums. Without McCabe there to provide to provide the spark of creative friction, Ashcroft has a tendency to descend into MOR blandness. Reforming The Verve is the best decision these two have ever made.
In general, the songs on Forth hearken back to the band's earlier jam-based writing approach (six of the ten tracks are credited to the band as a whole). "Love Is Noise" ranks right up there with the best songs they've ever released, and the appropriately titled "Noise Epic" recalls the psychedelic cacophony of their first album, A Storm In Heaven. Not surprisingly, the songs that Ashcroft wrote himself, such as "Rather Be" and "Valium Skies," sound very much like they could have been released a decade ago on Urban Hymns. The new album certainly isn't perfect ("Judas" kinda sounds like the worst song a on a recent U2 album), but it's definitely a welcome comeback for a band most of us thought we'd never hear from again.
(NOTE - This post had to be recreated because blogger deleted the original without notice. For that reason, there is no MP3)