Sunday, December 1, 2013

Underrated Classic: The Verve "A Northern Soul"

The Verve had a slow growth in America, after releasing a handful of EP's, a fantastic debut, A Storm In Heaven, and even a compilation album, they were struggling to gain attention across the pond. However, back home in England, they were one of the most acclaimed new bands of the 90's. By the time they released their second album, A Northern Soul, in 1995, the second British invasion was in full swing. Bands like Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Spiritualized, Elastica, Suede, and many others were dominating European airwaves and peaking their way into American radio and heavy rotation on MTV. A Northern Soul was something different than what the other British bands had. It was darker, much more textured and diverse, but most of all, it was a sonic shift for the band. They traded in their signature psychedelic sound for a commercial and alternative style that would gain them much more attention. For most bands, this would be known as "selling out," for The Verve it was a way to not struggle anymore and showcase their brilliant songwriting and singer Richard Ashcroft's superb lyrics on a grander scale. The album was recorded in a dark room that Ashcroft referred to as a dungeon and was inspired by the Northern Soul music movement of the 60's. After it's release, A Northern Soul's reviews were mixed across the board, in fact, they ranged from either love or hate, there seemed to be no middle ground. Now, 18 years later, A Northern Soul sounds more fresh, vibrant, and interesting as ever before. It showcases that The Verve were truly a band ahead of their time.