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Urban Hymns

The Verve

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Album Review

Not long after the release of A Northern Soul, the Verve imploded due to friction between vocalist Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe. It looked like the band had ended before reaching its full potential, which is part of the reason why their third album, Urban Hymns — recorded after the pair patched things up in late 1996 — is so remarkable. Much of the record consists of songs Ashcroft had intended for a solo project or a new group, yet Urban Hymns unmistakably sounds like the work of a full band, with its sweeping, grandiose soundscapes and sense of purpose. The Verve have toned down their trancy, psychedelic excursions, yet haven't abandoned them — if anything, they sound more muscular than before, whether it's the trippy "Catching the Butterfly" or the pounding "Come On." These powerful, guitar-drenched rockers provide the context for Ashcroft's affecting, string-laden ballads, which give Urban Hymns its hurt. The majestic "Bitter Sweet Symphony" and the heartbreaking, country-tinged "The Drugs Don't Work" are an astonishing pair, two anthemic ballads that make the personal universal, thereby sounding like instant classics. They just are the tip of the iceberg — "Sonnet" is a lovely, surprisingly understated ballad, "The Rolling People" has a measured, electric power, and many others match their quality. Although it may run a bit too long for some tastes, Urban Hymns is a rich album that revitalizes rock traditions without ever seeming less than contemporary. It is the album the Verve have been striving to make since their formation, and it turns out to be worth all the wait.

Customer Reviews

More than Bittersweet Symphony

This album is one of my favorites of all time. I only wish that they had witheld Bittersweet Symphony upon release because underneath that mega-hit is an incredibly deep, enriching, and magnificent record. Incredibly painful and melancholy while still offering glimmers of hope. It's one of those rare records that you can listen to all the way through.

90's kids stand up

great album love these guys sooo much!! like why arent others rating this album? it deserves a 10/10 !!!!

Great Album, Awesome Rhythms

Love it, even though this album is old I still enjoy it. They should make a come back, especially the song "Bitter Sweet Symphony". Great rhythms, alternative rock, creative, and unique. Listen to it 😄

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Wigan, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Long acclaimed as one of the most innovative and spellbinding bands on the contemporary British pop scene, the Verve finally broke through to a mass international audience in 1997 with the instant classic "Bittersweet Symphony." By no stretch a study in overnight success, the group's rise was instead the culmination of a long, arduous journey that began at the dawn of the decade and went on to encompass a major breakup, multiple lawsuits, and an extensive diet of narcotics. Perfecting an oceanic...
Full Bio