2 of 3 thought this review was well written
Richard Ashcroft - vocals/guitar
Nick McCabe - Lead Guitar/keyboards
Simon Jones - Bass
Peter Salisbury - Drums/percussion
review by Krash100
With their first album the Verve created an atmospheric soundscape in the vein of fellow shoegazers My Bloody Valentine and Ride. For their follow up effort A Northern Soul, the Verve followed the direction they were headed with songs like "Blue", creating trippy pop songs with passionate lyrics of love and despair.
The band have abandoned the more overtly shoegazer sound and adapted with the times for a more traditional approach to psychedlic rock. Nick's guitar leads have less effects and a more bluesy feel, often echoey and full of feedback. There's less droning and more melody in the music this time around. Richards vocal delivery is also more melodic and his lyric writing has improved a lot in the two years since their last album. The rhythm section of Jones and Salisbury is once again on top of their game and there is a noticable improvement in Jones' basslines which complement the songs well.
[b]A New Decade[b] - The album starts of with this hard rocking number begining with the band warming up. Suddenly everyone comes in with Ascroft yelling "A new decade, the radio plays the sounds we make...". How true it was. Nick does this weird slide with an effect laden guitar or maybe a synth. Very cool (5/5)
This is Music - A distorted bassline introduces this next track which is along the same lines as the last track. Nicks guitar is very distorted . Richards lyrics tackle religion and the "being born without a silver spoon". Toward the end the vocals overlap and behind shards of guitar. One of the Verve's best songs. (5/5)
On Your Own - The first ballad on the album is really a preview of what would come to dominate Urban Hymns. A very pretty tune with great lyrics. The songs peaks when Ashcroft sings "lies, gotta get rid of this hole inside" in a high voice over a piano line. (4.5/5)
So It Goes - Another ballad that I didn't like at first, but have come to enjoy more than "On Your Own". Nick does some nice guitat work here. The song falls apart somewhat toward the end, but overall a great song. (4.5)
A Northern Soul - This is more of a jam oriented song with the lyrics almost being sung in a spoken word form. Nick's guitar is very overdriven and has some strange effects. Simon Jones throws in a ver fine bassline here that drives the some along. (3.5/5)
Brainstorm Interlude - the few lyrics here are barely legible. This track is the Nick McCabe at his very psychedelic best. Simon Jones and Peter Salisbury provide an almost dance-able rhythm for Nick's guitar artistry. One of the Verve's best trademark jam tracks (4/5)
Drive You Home - An acoustic ballad that struck me as a filler track. I never got into this one. (2.5/5)
History - The Verve's first real indulgence in string arrangements is with this ballad. A pretty decent song similar to "The Drugs Don't Work". One of the albums highlights. (5/5)
No knock on My Door - A guitar heavy song with a steady driving beat. Richards singing seems a little slow for the song, but nonetheless one of the better songs here. (4/5)
Life's An Ocean - Simon Jone's bass hook dominates this track while McCabe dabs guitar fills around it before launching into a jazzy guitar solo toward the end. Richards lyrics are pretty metaohorical thoughout the song. Overall a good track. (4.5/5)
Stormy Clouds - A very trippy song filled with Richards great world-weary lyrics. Other than that it's an average song that doesn't stand out much compared with the rest of the album. (3/5)
Reprise - Another jam song filled with echoing voices and spacey guitar lines. This one isn't as good as Brainstorm Interlude, but it certainly captures the feeling of a drug induced daze in a 6 minute song.
That's is guys. A very good album. Almost as good, if not as good as Urban Hymns. The whole album was reported recorded under a massive intake of ecstasy (maybe part of that is mythology) but judging by the sound of the music it seems possible. After this album the band broke up briefly before reforming and adding Simon Tong on keyboards in 1996. They then went on to make the brit pop classic Urban Hymns.