The Verve

After 1997's Urban Hymns proved to be a breakthrough for the Verve, frontman Richard Ashcroft went solo prematurely — and he was punished by having quite a bit of strong music be largely ignored. Now Ashcroft is back in the band, and on "Sit and Wonder," the lush opener, his form returns with him. But aside from "Love Is Noise," accented by seagull-like squawks that prove only moderately irritating, and the majestic "Appalachian Springs," the other material seems somewhat uninspired. "Numbness" is precisely what most listeners will feel when the tune lurches to its conclusion, "Valium Skies" can't quite rise to the occasion, and "Colombo" comes across as a medley in search of a song. Not so easy to pick up where you left off, is it?


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