May 20 2016 (Cooking Vinyl)
Words: Alison Mack
The former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft has come a long way from his 90s leadership of one of the decade's most influential bands. After a hiatus in his solo career, this latest album - his first in six years - while no doubt will please die-hard fans, may find others still in search of filling the hole this leaves.
'These People' is a passable work, it must be said - if a little too much stuck in decades past - but for anyone seeking an album of an epic, godlike quality, this is not it. While starting off with the funk fare of 'Out Of My Body', the nine tracks that follow adhere to a similar mid-tempo indie, string-filled production - but lacking the greatness of 'Bittersweet Symphony' or 'The Drugs Don't Work'.
‘They Don’t Own Me’ has the characteristic Ashcroft croon and bears comparison to the swagger of pre-solo days, while the lengthy five-minute-odd second single, ‘Hold On’, while might have benefited from a 60-second edit, still manages to pass as one of the album's better tracks in its zippy, disco style of synths and beats.
“Guess I’m a little numb, yet look what I’ve done,” he ruminates on 'Picture Of You', an atmospheric song that mourns the beauty of youth, while 'Ain’t The Future So Bright' reverts once again to a pop-rock mix with an ample filling of synths and electronic effects, but doesn't quite make the stylistic grade.
When lead single, the mid-tempo ballad 'This Is How It Feels' - the only real anthemic number here - came glowingly stamped with a Liam Gallagher seal of approval, you can only surmise that he hadn't heard the rest of the album at that time. Maybe we could get a Gallagher review post-release...?