As the frontman of The Verve, Richard Ashcroft was in one of the UK's biggest bands of the post-Britpop era. The Wigan outfit have a history of a fractious relationship and, having split after their fourth album, Ashcroft is now releasing his fifth record outside of the group. A handful of live dates include a slot on the Isle of Wight Festival bill.
With his most recent single being a solid attempt at bridging the gulf between the indie and club crowds, it is less of a surprise than it may have been that 'Out Of My Body' is a combination of synths and dance beats. Unfortunately the hooks aren't as immediate as those on 'Hold On', resulting in a lacklustre opener. The track that announced Ashcroft's return, 'This Is How It Feels', is a familiar direction for him, and is a hypnotic slow-burner. Also of note is 'They Don't Own Me', but for the wrong reason: it is reminiscent of 'Lucky Man', but gets nowhere near the quality of the Verve classic. The second act of the album is remarkably inconspicuous; 'Picture Of You' strums along unimaginatively, 'Ain't The Future So Bright' passes without impression and 'Songs Of Experience' is a final crack at the indie-club hybrid that fails. Only the rousing 'Black Lines' sees any sense of rousing energy from Ashcroft translate through, which is a disappointment given the solid first half of the record.
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