This is one of those timeless albums that you can listen to now (six years after its initial release) and still enjoy it. Each of the songs still sound as fresh as today as they did back in 1997. With this album, the Verve hit a homerun.
I remember I was browsing through a CD store when I first heard "Bittersweet Symphony." It immediately caught my attention, and I stood rooted on the spot just listening. Very few times has an album jolted me like that, but this was one of those times. I asked the clerk who this was and he said that it was from the new album by The Verve. After "Bittersweet" was over, he told me to hold on and listen to "Lucky Man." It was after that I was sold -- I had to buy the album.
On this album, you get 13 little masterpieces -- there's not a filler track in the bunch. Besides the excellent songwriting, the production is outstanding. I haven't heard such a good mix of strings since Tony Visconti's work with T. Rex -- just listen to "Lucky Man," "Bittersweet Symphony," or "Sonnet" for proof.
The only downside is that the group broke up after this -- their finest moment! Of all the dumb luck. While Richard Ashcroft has gone on to do a couple of solo albums, they don't seem to capitalize on what The Verve had done on this album. Yes, he's the voice, the did much of the writing, but as the old saying goes: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Best album of the 1990's? This one, no question about it. After the Britney's, the Justin's, and all the other drivel from that era fades, this will be one of the albums people look back upon fondly. Rating: A+