Okay so before I start this I should probably point out that, you know, blogs are for expressing individual opinions and that no opinion expressed on there wil reperesent the way everyone thinks. I’m saying this because I expect a little bit of backlash from this post. Well, not really because I know you’re all nice and that any criticism is constructive.
But really, do we really need a new project from this man:
That’s right, Richard Ashcroft is BACK – well, actually he was never really away what with the Verve reunion and his own solo project…. but that defies the point which is: do we really need Richard Ashcroft to be back? This is a man who lives in the shadow of “Bittersweet Symphony” and claims to be constantly trying to break free from the fact that it is the Verve’s defining song. Great. Okay, that seems achievable. You don’t need to change your voice to change your tune, so Ashcroft had set out on something very achievable.
But then this happened: he formed this band. This band? Only RPA And The United Nations Of Sound… Oh god. Oh god help us all! For a start, when I first heard that Ashcroft was naming his new band this, I could have died. This may be one of the most overblown and downright pretentious band names I’ve ever heard: it’s a bit like saying, “hey we’re under one roof here but the boss is definitely Richard Ashcroft (RPA) and he’s running the show, so let’s ignore the fact that we could have had an interesting world music project and revert to a bit of Bitter Sweet Symphony!”
Wanna know what it sounds like? You sure? Okay:
Oh dear, where to start? I suppose this is meant to be rousing, and heart-warming but… it falls so short. So short that it kind of does the opposite… Those drums, for a start, are overpowering and uninspired, the guitar that seeps in every now and then is cheesy and smacks a little of the 80s (bad 80s, not sophisticated 80s revival), Ashcroft’s voice breaks under the strain of holding a single note, there’s a chant at the end that’s a hideously blatant attempt at audience participation (for the record, audience participation is a thing of beauty when the crowd does it off their own back, but when forced it crumbles and seems cheesy) and then there’s the strings….
The strings… they’re so Bitter Sweet Symphony! Argh! It’s all gone the shape of the pear!
Ashcroft should have done the noble thing and bowed out a couple of years ago after the Verve reformed. Let’s face it, reformations can only mean one of two things: either you’re an old band who’s running out of money or you’re a relatively new band who are trying to cling desperately to the feelings of the glory days. Ashcroft falls dinstinctly into the latter, and it would have been nice if he didn’t try to leech off the popularity of the older stuff.
Here’s where Noel Gallagher comes in (bear with me). On the release of “TIme Flies”, Oasis’ greatest hits record, Gallagher claimed that it didn’t make sense to have the CD go in chronological order, because that would mean “that all the iconic stuff would be at the front” – and that really is Gallagher’s words! Much like what Gallagher says, Ashcroft’s iconic stuff is in the Verve heyday, and everything after that is living in the shadow of the early success, much like Oasis and “Definitely Maybe”. When Oasis split, many said that they hadn’t written a good song since the “Definitely Maybe” days, and Ashcroft will be resigned to the same fate.
Carrying on is okay if you’re a small band, or you’re willing to constantly reinvent yourself, but now is the time for Ashcroft to bow out, before the shadow consumes him and people tell him to give it a rest. Much like I’m doing now.