The Verve was a modern British pop band with a tinge of psychedelia and more than a bit of melancholy. They were, as their biggest commercial hit so aptly puts it, a "bittersweet symphony." Their music does emit a certain energetic... [more]
The Verve was a modern British pop band with a tinge of psychedelia and more than a bit of melancholy. They were, as their biggest commercial hit so aptly puts it, a "bittersweet symphony." Their music does emit a certain energetic quality supported by strong, echoing guitars. But it's wrapped in a rather disaffected lyrical blanket that keeps the mood from being too upbeat. It's thick, beautiful rock 'n' roll, but sometimes it can't help but wax poetic. When Richard Ashcroft declares, 'Another drink and I won't miss her,' we feel the despair and the sneering bitterness drowned in an alcoholic haze. These songs are anthems of solitude, nostalgia, cynicism, and even hope, which are perfectly suited to be recognized and sung along to.
Richard Ashcroft, Nick McCabe, Simon Jones, and Peter Salisbury came out of the trenches of a small town near Liverpool named Wigan. Critically, though not commercially, they found immediate success -- with the release of their debut LP 'A Storm in Heaven' (1993), the band was hailed as "the liquid essence of rock 'n' roll" and "already immortal." Still, stardom proved elusive, despite the band members' 'rock star' behavior (which included massive drug intake, trashing an American hotel room, a temporary departure by Ashcroft, and a reshuffling of members).
The Verve finally found widespread recognition with 1997's 'Urban Hymns.' The catchy single 'Bittersweet Symphony' (made from a loop of a symphonic Rolling Stone sample) established The Verve as a British pop mainstay. This album showcases The Verve's trademark, a haunted quality that drifts in and out of appealing harmonies and basic structured chords. The song 'Sonnet' sets a characteristic mood -- an upbeat, twangy guitar counteracts such plaintive lyrics as 'looking at the heavens with a tear in my eye." The Verve held a particular niche within the Brit pop spectrum. Their poetic vunerability distinguished them from more solidly entrenched pop bands like Oasis. But perhaps all that vulnerability proved too much in real life -- the breakup of the band in 1999 seemed a tragic end befitting its music. [show less]