Although a fine album in its own right, the popularuty of A Northern Soul probably owes much to the huge success of Urban Hymns in 1997/8. A collection of swirling, grand epics and expansive landscapes, it is more sprawling, and, many fans would argue, more inspired than its tighter, commercial successor. Richard Ashcroft's lyrics are undoubtedly less oblique than on the group's debut, A Storm In Heaven. The album's highlight is 'History', with its fluid guitar and crafted strings. A worthy, if rambling, record, it is significant both musically and as an indication of the group's imminent dissolution, prior to their triumphant return two years later.
What the critics say...
Q (12/99, p.84) - Included in Q Magazine's "90 Best Albums Of The 1990s."
Q (2/96, p.67) - Included in Q's 50 Best Albums of 1995.
Q (8/95, p.134) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "Rangy, whirlpool rock from Wigan's aspiring starsailors, with a dense, warm sound....the band's exploratory ethic guarantees the odd blind alley, but the rewards are vertiginous guitar themes [and] a mighty, organic groove..."
Alternative Press (8/95, p.102) - "...conveys intense soul-searching and philosophizing borne of great emotional stress....The Verve have swallowed hook, line and sinker the trappings of rock mythology. That they don't sound hopelessly retro testifies to the brilliance with which they manipulate hoary signifiers..."
Melody Maker (12/23-30/95, pp.66-67) - Ranked #29 on Melody Maker's list of 1995's 'Albums Of The Year.'
Melody Maker (7/1/95, p.38) - Recommended - "...The loud stuff is where it really kicks in--the title track is nine different stereos playing in nine different buildings, while 'This Is Music' makes the most of lurex-rough guitars to create something that comes close to being horribly ponderous [but is] all the more impressive for just clipping the corners..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.57) - Ranked #75 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "A NORTHERN SOUL married prog rock and Blitzkrieg harmonies with 'Mad' Richard Ashcroft's shamanic lyricism."
NME (Magazine) (8/12/00, p.28) - Ranked #15 in The NME "Top 30 Heartbreak Albums".
NME (Magazine) (12/23-30/95, pp.22-23) - Ranked #17 in NME's 'Top 50 Albums Of The Year' for 1995.
NME (Magazine) (7/1/95, p.48) - 6 (out of 10) - "...exude such a sense of astounding self-belief...they can almost convince you that even their more nonsensical moments should be cast in gold....Marry that self-belief with music that actually justifies the swagger...and The Verve are onto a few sly winners..."
- New Decade, A
- This Is Music
- On Your Own
- So It Goes
- Northern Soul, A
- Brainstorm Interlude
- Drive You Home
- No Knock On My Door
- Life's An Ocean
- Stormy Clouds
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