In Gravity's Rainbow Thomas Pynchon wrote that paper is used in three ways-- for "shit, money, and The Word." I tend to look at guitars in the same way. File Urban Hymns neatly into the "The Word" file please. Listening to the Verve's third LP mimics the feeling one gets the day after being bedridden-sick forever and walking out into a 59-degree-cool, fresh, lung-numbing October morning to have a picnic of herbal tea, citruses, and damn good donuts with your lover (who was too afraid of catching your bug for the last week).
No need for power chords or stick- a- fork- in- a- fan guitar racket here. The Verve's fencing guitarists layer neon-effervescent wave after neon-effervescent wave of wah wah wash over the blue sands and polished granite boulders of the shifting rhythm section. The beautiful subtlety of the guitars waft up your nose and relax your mind like those giant screw-hooks with which the Egyptians used to take out brains. The Verve's affirmant melodies dance and haunt. Vocalist Richard Ashcroft even looks and sounds like a ghost. Ironic that one of the year's best rock albums moves earth without excessive stroking of the guitar. But this sucker can blow out a Bose. Recommended uses for Urban Hymns-- reading Tolkien, making love, driving at night through Kentucky/Scottish hills, any old time you're tired of the chug and drag of modern rock.