Why, when a supposedly 'legendary' band reform, is their back catalogue suddenly viewed through rose-tinted glasses, their gigs with misty-eyed nostalgia, and their comeback with a fervent sense of 'I liked them all along' from once-casual observers? The Verve, a band that nobody really cared about the first time 'round - at least not until 1997's 'Urban Hymns' - must be laughing all the way to the bank. Reformations after a band has quite obviously hit their peak are simply money-spinning exercises, cynics may argue - and the allegedly still-active rift between songwriters Richard Ashcroft and Nick McCabe does little to quell the sense that this reunion was doomed from the start.
Nonetheless, it's unfair to dismiss a record on the basis of such cynicism, so Forth was digested with open ears and an open mind. It made no difference, though: this is a humourless, humdrum comeback from the Wigan quartet. Opener Sit and Wonder does momentarily hold attention and a promise for things to come, its scratchy swirl of guitars and strong, building chorus proving enjoyable, if a little indulgent; yet from there on in, there's a series of very ordinary tracks that fail to spark the imagination.
Uneven pacing is a problem here, too; the softer, poppier numbers like Judas, the BRMC-do-Bacharach kick of Valium Skies and the impressively bleak I See Houses are commandeered by Ashcroft's dreary, meandering ballads (he's still a crap lyricist, too) at all the wrong points on Forth, resulting in a constant sense of choppiness and a lack of momentum throughout.
No, there's nothing here that stands up to 'Bitter Sweet Symphony', 'Sonnet', or even sweeping, grandiose ballads like 'History' - which begs the question if they weren't going to at least match their previous output, why were The Verve arsed getting back together in the first place? Perhaps the cynics were right, after all. File this under 'shouldn't have bothered'.