Alone With Everybody (Virgin)
by Tim Den
I’m heartbroken. It pains me to say it – and it leaves me in disbelief – but Richard Ashcroft‘s solo debut has totally disappointed me. Granted, I was never a huge fan of The Verve, but I dug their psychedelia and energy, and I totally fuckin’ fell for “A Song for the Lovers,” the first track and single from Alone with Everybody. I thought I was in for the ride of my life when track two, “I Get My Beat,” traveled in similar paths as the single – down deep backwaters of melody, caked with ages of BritPop nostalgia, hardly succumbing to the engulfing waves of instrumentation and layering – but as the record progressed, I realized this fantasy was too good to be true. Where certain tracks almost matched the quality of the first two (such as the grinning “C’mon People (We’re Making it Now)”), the majority of Alone with Everybody runs itself into the ground by repeating gratuitously and aimlessly each song’s refrain and often childish hook, until you swear Matchbox 20 (ahem, I mean “Twenty”) was the shameless author behind these lobotomies.
With each song running over five, even six minutes, it’s mind-boggling to think that anyone would just repeat the chorus for the last – oh, let’s say – four and a half minutes of the song. With no changes. I thought only factory-produced cheese techno and heavy-rotation radio “hits” (Sugar Ray, No Doubt, Aeliyah, my stinkin’ pud) pulled that shit. Where am I, at the gym? While listening to this, I just couldn’t get the images of freightening (almost inhuman, cold as machines), overly-produced Jock Rock comparisons out of my head. By the time I reached the pseudo-country-meets-Casio-keyboards of “Slow was My Heart,” I was the one with the shattered cardiovascular. If only the fat was trimmed off most of these songs (and hell, while we’re at it, half of the songs were made B-sides and better ones were written to replace ’em), we might’ve seen what the first two were trying to hint at. Please, Richard, “you’re tearin’ up my heart.”