[Three and a half stars]
This has perhaps been the most underrated comeback this year. Headlining at Glastonbury’s last day Richard Ashcroft might have come across as conceited to some as he said, “A shout out Jay Z for putting in a good performance but tonight is rock n roll!””¦”It’s time to get your dancing pants on,” the Verve frontman declared before they played their first new song’Sit and Wonder’ from Forth. What Ashcroft meant by that we still can’t figure – ”˜Love is Noise’ could inspire a couple of smooth moves with its sonic influences and crowing vocals (which are ear assailing at first listen) ”“ ”˜Sit and Wonder’ removes itself from any such suggestion. The video of Â ”˜Love is Noise’ welcomes a healthier and rather more appealing Ashcroft with fuller cheeks, but his condescending glare pierces through the tube ”“ and yes, the man still conforms to subversive lyricism. Ashcroft is very much a part of the vain club of stiff upper lip Brit music literati, which also shelters the likes of Morrissey and the Gallagher brothers. He references Blake for his lyrics which inspired the words on ”˜Love is Noise,’ opening with a suave attack on China – ”˜will those feet in modern times/walk on soles that are made in China’. His solo albums, as much as they tapped prolific lyrics, were sleep inducing on account of mediocre compositions. His ”˜not as successful’ solo career through 99-2007, must have been realization enough for the man to rejoin forces with guitarist Nick McCabe, bassist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury. As usual Ashcroft offers up further insight into his doom ridden wanderings on songs such as ”˜Numbness,’ ”˜Judas’ and ”˜I see Houses’ ”“ out and out the album houses his fundamentally dark poetry. Though one would like to believe that Ashcroft hibernated in a room and sequestered himself from society during this hiatus – but this record has subtle give aways on certain tracks which lead one to believe that even the much revered progenitor of Brit rock is susceptible to influence. Tracks as ”˜Valium Skies’ and ”˜Judas’ seem to acknowledge the younger generation of Brit rock in sounding slightly affected, straying from any original Verve template. Ashcroft’s vocals have caught on an aged maturity, though the tracks he cloaks his gullet in falsettos, baritones and nasal finishes. On ”˜Noise Epic,’ Ashcroft’s distorted vocals chase words rushing into a sing along chorus ”“ it least justifies its title. McCabe hasn’t exactly exhausted his genius with the record but has responsibly shouldered the phoenix. Besides the anthemic ”˜Love is Noise’ there is no experimental gallivanting on the album – and we must remember ”˜Bittersweet Symphony’ also dabbled with symphonic chiming. There are slim chances that The Verve attempts to cater to a broader audience with this record, they are simply sweeping stock of old days. As regressive as it may sound we are glad they didn’t try something different.