Integrity is a difficult thing to own if one is in the music business ... artists want the recognition, they want the success, yet they crave those street credentials, credentials that harken back to a by gone era, to groups like The Velvet Underground, who built up a hard core cult following, primarily after they broke up. And The Verve have inadvertently followed them down the same rabbit hole, laying out some stunningly romantic neo psychedelic music, picking up where groups like Echo & The Bunnymen and Jesus and Mary Chain left off, and then self-destructing in the process.
I like to feel that there’s always been a sense of desperation in the music of The Verve. They forever seemed to be stretching for something that was just out of reach and have adjusted their sound and style with each outing to reflect this searching and uncertainness ... yet here on Urban Hymns, it's easy for you to hear the culmination of everything the band has put forth to date. "Velvet Morning" has to be a near perfect song, but then so are nearly all of the tracks found here, this is the album groups wait a lifetime to make, this is the album music lovers wait a lifetime to find.
At times the music can drive you headlong through the night, at other times it can rocket you into space or expand your days in ways you’ve never thought of. There is a cumulative effect to the tunes found here, they build, intermix, weave and collide with each other with both grace and abandonment. The music is some of the most dense and richly textured I have ever encountered, filling the air with shimmering heat waves that constantly wash over and envelop with comfort and peace. The Verve have managed to draw from their influences without compromising themselves, their sound is all their own, and to that end you should find where this most excellent release fits into your life. This is one of the most prized albums in my collection, and I often hesitate reaching for it, for fear that it will not hold up for one more play ... but I tell you true, it has never let me down.