The Upshot: Put on the gas mask, world! He probably won’t be counting much in the royalties from record sales of this stinker. And he can’t even make a bank deposit from The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” either.
BY JONATHAN LEVITT
Several years ago when Chris Cornell released his Timabland “produced” album Scream, the rock world was in a tizzy. It seemed for all intents and purposes that one of rock’s great vocalists was now staking out the turf held by Madonna and the likes of Linkin Park. Some thought it was a prank of sorts. Little did we know that hidden inside Cornell was a top 40 singer waiting to crawl to the surface.
It didn’t matter that he made his way back for Soundgarden’s drab reunion album King Animal; the damage was done and he had only himself and Timbaland’s insipid, auto-tuned sound to thank for it.
So here comes Richard Ashcroft or “Mad Richard”, as the press once dubbed him, the former leader of The Verve, and sadly a songwriter that once had something to say. His latest album These People follows in very much the same limp dick way that Cornell’s does.
Front-loading the album with slick, AOR sounding tracks, the album only proves that behind many an alternative nation crooner hides a shadow dancing George Michael wannabe. The album is filled with Ashcroft and his titanic ego trying to tell as well sell the world on why he’s still relevant. Unfortunately, there’s little of anything redeeming about the music on this album. While not as revolting as Cornell’s Scream, the record at best rehashes elements of Urban Hymns, but lacks the beauty that guitarist Nick McCabe brought to the proceedings. Here Mad Richard is obviously going through a midlife crisis. He definitely doesn’t know who his audience is anymore. Veering from tepid cut and paste sounds from his other band’s work, he then feels the need to give us a dance oriented number which sorely misses the mark.
Sometimes artists hide the nature of an album by showcasing some obscure piece of art on the front cover. Here, Mad Richard has the look of a hoodlum from Essex, with his freshly shorn locks dressed in a suit with a gas mask slung around his neck. I thought about this album cover for all of one minute and realized he’s actually suggesting that we might well need that mask when we listen to this steaming heap of shit that he’s served up to humanity. Avoid this under all circumstances and check out The Verve’s A Northern Soul.
DOWNLOAD: The Verve’s “A New Decade”