The Verve have gone through many stylistic changes throughout their years, but the unfortunate truth is most will only know the band through their hit single "Bittersweet Symphony". This is, as it turns out, just a weak effort off the even weaker album Urban Hymns
. Where The Verve truly blossomed was in their early years, and it’s remarkable that a debut light-years ahead of their later material shows where it all began. This is a classic example of psychedelic rock at its most tranquil and subtle.
Before The Verve were writing infectious Britpop tunes to be played endlessly in department stores across the globe, they were crafting some of the psychedelic scene’s most overlooked gems. This EP’s simplicity isn’t to be laughed at, because it feels a hundred times more mature then any cookie-cutter Britpop single ever could. How the band managed to begin on such a high note with little to no acclaim is made even sadder when you realize they achieved the majority of success with their least innovative work. Songs like the 10 minute closer “Feel” seduce you like a drug binge with a perfect woman; the undeniable beauty and sensual elegance of the moment renders you in a state of blissful content as you go along for the ride. The smooth embrace and soft voices beg to be explored further and further as each new layer is peeled away and left exposed.
The EP is as hazy as the cover art it adorns, and that’s what makes it so incredible. The short collection of songs transcends the thin barrier between psychedelic music and the drugs they stem from, and believe me when I say I am no stranger to either recreations. The mesmerizing bass lines handle most of the rhythm work on the album while tripped out melodies glide across subtle guitar leads and ethereal singing, creating one of the most absorbing and glossy shoegaze efforts of the early 90s. This can be attributed as one of its strongest characteristics, because while My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless
was paving the way for the scene with its roaring and chaotic textures, it was this EP that truly showcased the gorgeous and tranquil melodies that the genre was capable of.
Each song is flawless in filling the atmosphere of any setting with a fog of surrealism. The echo and reverb drenched music seeps through the speakers and carries with it the experience of a drug-induced sedation. The band clearly emphasized the effects of the drugs they were on while recording this, and with droning pop they politely beckon the listeners to join in. So whether or not the record is playing in a hot-boxed dorm room, in the swirling hotel walls at the end of an acid trip, or just for a late night drive down a misty highway, its listeners will not be left sober. I highly recommend this short and sweet EP to any fan of psychedelic rock.