There are many bands over the years that I have been obsessed with. At one point it was Depeche Mode, The Cure, and The Smiths. Then it was Suede, Pulp, Blur, and The Verve. Once your obsession reaches a certain point, I think it never really goes away. Part of it is always there or it just builds and gets bigger and stronger. I have no doubt that these bands will be with me the rest of my life. Depeche Mode and The Cure are my Rolling Stones and The Who. The Smiths are my Beatles. My obsession can live on in Morrissey's solo career much like that of Paul McCartney does for fans of The Beatles. The Verve could not have come at a better time in my life. I sort of needed them. I needed a new band to latch on to and get obsessed with. My shoegaze bands like Ride, The Pale Saints, and Slowdive were starting to break up and dissolve away. The first Blur album had come out a couple of years prior to 1993, but I didn't really get into them until 1993. This was the year of the first Verve album, A Storm in Heaven and also the year of Blur's second album, Modern Life is Rubbish. The album that really made me a fan. 1993 was also the year of the self titled album by Suede and my first Pulp album, His 'N' Hers. Pulp had already been around for a decade or so but I had never heard of them until 1993. I suddenly had all these new bands to obsess over. The albums were all excellent and easy to get obsessed with. Many of my friends, and most everyone else in the world, were all into Oasis, but I remember seeing Oasis in some interview and right then deciding that I didn't want to like this band..but they obviously played a part in this period of music. Their debut album Definitely Maybe would come out a year later in 1994. These bands were also all over the magazines and a lot of my friends were also getting into the same bands. It was just an exciting time for music.
I follwed the careers of all these bands andanxiously anticipated their new albums and collected all their import singles. I made mix-tapes of all their b-sides. I went to go see them in concert whenever they made their way to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Great albums followed these fantastic debuts. Suede released two more great albums, Dog Man Star and Coming Up. Pulp released the fantastic A Different Class that seemed to change the world...or at least my world. Blur went on to release Parklife and The Great Escape. Verve went on to put out A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns. I remain a fan of all these bands to this day. I still listen to the albums and they sound as just as great. My obsession might have died down a bit: I don't have their posters up anymore or buy every magazine they are on anymore, but they are not really on magazines anymore. Suede put out a couple more albums that didn't really hold my interest. I still liked Head Music in 1999, but I can't really even remember the album that followed, A New Morning. Pulp kind of took the same path. They put out This is Hardcore in 1999. I still liked that album and have very fond memories of it. I still bought all the singles. Still, my obsession was never as strong as during A Different Class. Blur put out a self titled album in 1997 and 13 in 1999. Again, I still liked these albums, but the greatness of Parklife and The Great Escape would never be equaled in my mind. The Verve broke up after Urban Hymns. I was, of course, devastated.
These bands never disappeared completely. Jarvis Cocker from Pulp put out a fantastic solo album two years ago. Graham Coxon from Blur has put out like 10 solo albums since the break up of Blur. And frontman Damon Albarn has continued to record in The Gorillaz. Brett Anderson has put out two solo albums since the break up of Suede, and he also got back together with Bernard Butler to record as The Tears, but I don't think things could ever be the same. I still have hopes of another Blur album, but I have come to terms with the fact that there will probably never be a Suede or Pulp album again-- however, I don't rule out some reunion shows or tours. I always thought there would be another Verve album. They just seemed to stop too early. Richard Ashcroft went on to create some great solo albums, but there was never another Verve album...at least this meant there was never a bad Verve album. They only left the world with 3 fantastic albums.
Now we get another album out this week by The Verve. They do run the risk of creating a disappointing fourth album, but I think it is worth the risk. The fourth album is appropriately called Forth. It only took them 11 years to come up with another one. That is a really long time to wait, but I am excited. I have been listening to the single a bunch, but I had not heard the whole album until this morning. I do actually like it a lot more than I thought that I would. It has the ability to make me want to cry inside but also feel really triumphant and happy. That is the power of a really good Verve song-- that perfect combination of intense sadness and happiness. It is hard to explain. The Verve is one of those bands that does that for me. I love the first single, "Love is Noise," but I think "Appalachian Springs" is my favorite song right now. This album has the potential to get better. I know once I listen to it a couple more times I will like it even more. I really am glad they are back in my life, and I really can't wait to see them live again. The last show they did remains one of my favorites of all time. You can listen to the new songs here. They have been nice enough to put the whole album up on their myspace page. I imagine there will be some old fans who will not like the new album. They may still be bitter and angry it took them so long to come up with a new album. This album will not be another Northern Soul or Urban Hymns. It just can't happen. Richard Ashcroft still has that amazing voice. I don't really know how I couldn't still love it. The previous Verve albums had such an amazing effect on me. I can't get rid of that feeling I had when I listened to those albums back then. That feeling is bound to be with me when I listen to these new songs, so of course I love them. I got to at least appreciate that they have made the effort to share the magic of what is The Verve with the world once again. Go see them live if you are doubting they are still as great. I am sure they will put on a show that will blow you away and make you love these new songs if you don't already.
Also out this week is the debut album from The Week That Was. This band is basically the band Field Music with 6 new people. Field Music was Andy Moore, Peter Brewis, and David Brewis. They are all in this new band but have just added some members and drastically changed their sound. They are from Newcastle in the UK. The album is brought to us by the label Memphis Industries. I really like the cover of this record and listened to it before I knew it was the guys from Field Music. I liked the Field Music albums but I never loved them. They sort of reminded my of the band Versus, just a UK version. It was good stuff but nothing to get all crazy about-- but I love this new album by The Week That Was. It reminds me of something that should have come out years ago. It sort of reminds me of some really good songs by Wire. I don't know what else to really compare them to. The sound is sort of dark. The album is really excellent. There are no bad songs on the album. But I love "Scratch the Surface." You should listen to it here. If you don't like this song then you probably will not like the album, but I don't really know how that is possible. This song is awesome. I have been listening to this album a couple times a day for the last couple of weeks, and it just gets better. It sound eerily familiar, like some album I already have, but also like nothing I have ever heard before. It guess this just means that if fits perfectly in my life--like it was supposed to happen. I highly recommend it.