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The Verve: Forth

After 1997's Urban Hymns proved to be a breakthrough for the Verve, frontman Richard Ashcroft went solo prematurely — and was punished by having quite a bit of strong music go largely ignored. Now Ashcroft has the band back together, and on "Sit and Wonder," Forth's 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 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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