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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Verve sets ‘Forth’ with new level of pretentiousness

As it turns out,
reading the Verve’s biography isn’t so much like reading a biography as it is like
reading a philosophy on life. Instead of reading of the band’s beginnings and
their instant fame after their hit “Bittersweet Symphony,” which they do touch
upon lightly, the reader is given an explanation of what they call “music of
the spheres,” and the Verve’s goal of “breaking out of the stratosphere.”

Maybe this has
to do with a wounded ego after losing all of the profits from “Bittersweet
Symphony” and the irony that it is still the band’s most popular song. As
pretentious as the Verve may seem, the band does make a point with their
philosophy in their new album Forth.

Forth opens with the single “Sit and Wonder,” which resonates
with their usual psychedelic sound that fans love. However, with Richard
Ashcroft’s whiny vocals set against similarly whiny guitar playing, the lyrics
are lost. Researching the lyrics and reading them yields a completely different
experience than just listening to the song, and it’s an experience most miss
out on unless they care to put in the time.


Maybe the Verve
made a point when they coined the term “music of the spheres.” As a sphere is
round, the songs of Forth are
cyclical — fairly long and repetitive — in particular “Sit and Wonder,” and
“Numbness.”  However, some of their
seven-minute songs seem too long and might begin to make the listener, well,

As it turns out,
one of the best songs is one of the shortest. “Valium Skies” momentarily leaves
the psychedelic sound behind in favor of more poignant lyrics. The result is an
entirely personal song that stands out on the album. Lyrics such as “How do you
stop this world from loathing/ Still no knocking with all these cards I’m
holding” ring out and away from the guitar backdrop, which results in a
superior, standout song on the album.

But the Verve is
notorious for their guitar work, and nothing shows it off better than “Noise
Epic.” Chaotic sounds of clashing guitars manage to work together, while the
lyrics act as if to lead the song through the chaos. And with the chanting of “wake
up” at the end, the song manages to dissipate like a dream.

Other highlights
include “I See Houses,” which recreates the sense of d?j? vu in a chilling
manner, and “Appalachian Springs,” the concluding song of Forth, offers stunning lyrics that end the CD on a high note.

With such a
troubled history, including lawsuits and two breakups, the Verve has a lot to
overcome. Additionally, there was the challenge of filling the gap that
“Bittersweet Symphony” left behind. Needless to say, it was a steep goal, but
the outcome is a good alternative to what’s already on the music scene. While
the Verve may be trying to be bigger than itself with their proposed
philosophy, Forth is definitely worth
a look for its echoing, synthesized music, which is sure to captivate fans of
the genre.

3 1/2 stars out of 5

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