I See Houses

So these are my crimes.

The Verve

Numbness

Before I break into Part II of my review of Forth I wanted to relay a story.  The NHL Network is showing the Buffalo-LA game from the other night.  The Kings broadcaster had a between periods segment on Jason Pominville’s blog.  Only when they showed him typing with text overlayed on the screen it had a big underlined typo. Don’t you think they could get a better shot? It also appears that he has someone else type it for him.

Nubmness starts out sounding like a Modest Mouse song.  It’s sad that this album came out only 4 months ago and it already seems to have disappeared from people’s radar.  Numbness on my brain… This song has a highly enjoyable bass line. Once again though the vocal is unintelligible to me.  He could be singing about anything. I do love the random guitar parts that sweep in and out of earshot.  Or in the case of one part, sweep across the stereo spectrum.

The next song contains a literal description of what I can only guess is Richard Ashcroft’s neighbourhood back home.  I See Houses is both the title and the first line.  This song makes extensive use of a string part.  There is also a fair amount of piano in here. I once again wonder aloud how much a band that goes 10 years between albums is affected by the changing currents of music.  To me this album sounds like it could’ve come out in 1999 and I wouldn’t have been surprised. It’s a fairly logical successor to Urban Hymns. I won’t be late, won’t be late, no. The piano is fantastic.  It’s understated and simple but it suits the repetitive nature of the song perfectly and gives a nice underpinning to the rest of that instrumental parts of the song.

Noise Epic is the appropriately named next song. It clocks in at a healthy 8:14, making it the longest song on an album of long songs.  The guitar effects in this song and many others remind me of The Matthew Good Band, and the sorts of tones they used on their three big albums.  Noise Epic features a driving bass line and a talking almost white rapping part. But it’s still mostly talking. I like it.  Once again though it is somewhat buried (intentionally) in the mix so it’s not 100% clear what he’s saying. It does seem like they are using American imagery in the song. At the midpoint the song starts to slow down and build up all at once.  I wonder where we are headed here.  The drums kick back in and I can envision a Jimi Hendrix style jam session. Is it 1970? Maybe. But this is still definitely The Verve. Overall I really enjoy this song in spite of it’s obscene length.  I especially love that there are two false endings.  The final minute and a half of Noise Epic is the most hard rocking part of the entire album. I got spirit…Wake up wake up wake up wake up…ironic after a long song.

From the longest to the shortest.  Valium Skies is the only song under 5 minutes on the entire album.  The dedication to such complex layering is admirable.  Every moment it seems as if 10 things are happening that I can’t hear on top of everything I can.  She’s got the things I need, yea the air I breath. This is a top 3 song for me.  It’s a regular old love song with more sweeping guitar effects.  I think this song would be as nice on an acoustic guitar.  I think that’s how a love song should be. If it can be stripped down to one instrument and one voice and still be beautiful, then it’s a winner.  And when it comes to my valium skies, she don’t mind if I cry…

Columbo was a favourite tv show of mine growing up.  I’m anxious to figure out if this song is actually about the famed detective. Especially since Peter Falk just passed away last week.  If you aren’t sure who I am talking about, maybe you know him as the Grandpa in The Princess Bride. This song would’ve made an ultra-hip theme song for the show.  Some people have compared this song to Lovesong by The Cure. I can see some of the similarities.  It might be similar to the way that Smells Like Teen Spirit is Louie Louie. Similar rhythmic setup, but with enough of The Verve to separate it. I can see what people are saying though.

The very final track is Appalachian Springs. To me, if a group is at all interested in creating a dynamic album they should be concerned with how they leave the audience. How does the last song wrap things up?  This song is an Urban Hymns style ballad along the lines of Lucky Man. Cause solitude, sacred mood, Appalachian springs, all my things, took a step to the left, took a  step to the right, saw myself, and I wasn’t quite right. I think it’s a nice trip back for fans of the band. It doesn’t seem to point to their future direction, but this whole album has been a hybrid of their early and later work.  I’m not sure where The Verve will go from here. Maybe they can keep standing still.

My final verdict on the album has a couple of parts. First, if you like The Verve for more than just Bittersweet Symphony, then you should already own this album. It has all the elements that made you a fan in the first place.  If you aren’t familiar with their work, and are a fan of bands like Radiohead, Coldplay, Blur, Oasis, or really any British rock of the 90’s then I’d recommend checking out the singles, previewing the songs online, and giving them a chance. You’ll likely be very satisfied. For everyone else, maybe youshould try to. This album won’t blow anyone away, but it is an enjoyable way to spend an hour and or so. Slipping in and out of the dreams…

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