The Verve - Love Is Noise
Bill Cummings 15/08/2008
Reunions: for every act that manages to reform, tour, with dignity still intact (The Pixies, My Bloody Valentine et al), there's an overwhelming majority that only engender disappointment when they reform. Competing with people's memory of their favourite act is always going to be an almost impossible task, and when you see the likes of Suede's Brett and Bernard (reforming as the Tears) with increasingly pallid, diminishing results you feel slightly sad that they even bothered to reform, only to tarnish their reputations. Then there's the dreaded rehashed 'new material', that often sneaks out as a bonus track on some spurious new greatest hits collection, designed to cash in on the reformation (or, if you're the Spice Girls, a whole album's worth). It makes you glad, then, that The Clash never got back together, or for the personal acrimony that one suspects stops The Smiths or the Stone Roses giving it one more go, despite the ludicrous sums offered up at the possibility.
When The Verve reformed their original line up last year, ten years on from their commercial peak 'Urban Hymns', there was understandable excitement, especially when they promised a return to the spacey rock glories of their previous albums 'A Storm in Heaven' and 'A Northern Soul' on a short tour earlier this year. It's such a disappointment then that this single 'Love Is Noise' sounds like the most hackneyed stab at said former glories. Sure, it may be the most commercial cut from their new recording sessions, but this lumpen attempt to produce an indie /dance smash makes Kasabian look positively forward thinking.
Chunky, driving beats fleetingly rile your interest, U2-esque bass rubs at your pores, but once the main offender kicks in - overused, ANNOYING, squawking monkey noise sample (OW-OW-OW-OW) - your finger starts to hover towards off button. That it's unnecessarily smeared all over the entire track adds insult to injury. Nick McCabe, one of the best guitarists of his generation, a man whose economical licks could switch in an instant from delicacy to huge cavernous noise to tiny shifting movements, can't have rejoined the band from his French seclusion to be buried beneath such superfluous noise? Can he? Then there's the bastardisation of William Blake's 'Jerusalem' in the rather ludicrous verses that see Ashcroft trying to stitch together modern references with the literary 'Did those feet in modern times/Walk on soles that are made in China'. It's not the first time that Ashcroft has mined Blake for lyrical inspiration, but his crib of Blake's 'London' on The Verve's classic, string laden strum 'History' was infinitely more successful.
Sure, Ashcroft's croon is still constant and comforting, the melody rising politely in the chorus, but one can't escape the feeling of rock'n'roll cliché that's written all over these lazy, self affirming words written on the back of a fag packet: 'Love is noise/Love is pain/Love is these blues that I'm singing again.' The temptation is to tell him not to bother.
There remains a suspicion that this track was
part of Ashcroft's solo career, since it apes the pallid monotony of much of his MOR riddled work. A total let down, then; you can only hope the forthcoming album 'Forth' offers more, but I won't be holding my breath.