Reuniting with your old band after endless years of acrimony seems to be the new hip thing these days—everyone’s doing it! (Well, everyone except for Journey.) The latest members of the on-again club are ’90s Britpoppers the Verve, who announced this week that they’re preparing to release their first new studio album since 1997. You probably know them as the guys who played “Bittersweet Symphony”, their only major US hit, but they recorded plenty of other great tunes which shared that excellent song’s melancholy, psychedelic feel. (“Sonnet” and “Lucky Man” are a couple of the better ones which are available online.) And with fellow Cool Britannia icon Tony Blair leaving office this week, there’s even a bit of poetic symmetry in the timing of the Verve’s return.
All the same, I’m having trouble getting too excited. Frontman Richard Ashcroft has seemed to grow more self-impressed and terminally boring with each solo album, leaving me wary at best about his chances of recapturing the old magic now. What’s worse, this isn’t even a full reunion: It’s missing guitarist Simon Tong, who joined the band for their swan song/finest moment Urban Hymns. Maybe that counts in Corganland, but not in my book. (In an ironic twist, Tong is currently busy collaborating with none other than Ashcroft’s old competitor Damon Albarn on projects including The Good, the Bad and the Queen.) I’ll certainly give the Verve’s next new single a listen out of loyalty, but overall this
one adds up to a big “meh” even for me—and I love mid-’90s Britpop, I swear.
So, do any of you PopWatchers feel more strongly than I about the Verve’s reverval? More importantly, who wants to take bets on when Jarvis Cocker will call Pulp back into action already?
addCredit(“Richard Ashcroft: Mark Shenley/Camera Press/Retna”)