Review: The Verve Pipe Smoke With An Eternal Glow

The Verve Pipe/Threads/Lmno 
3.5 Out of Five Stars

The Verve Pipe has never been a band that fits easily into any particular niche. They share an easily engaging pop approach, but also demonstrate enough ambition to allow for a progressive posture as well. They’re an alternative ensemble to be sure, but there’s nothing that detracts from obvious accessibility. 

Their new album finds the band staying faithful to that formula, courtesy of its bright and buoyant melodies and a sound that’s as captivating as it is compelling. Frontman and singer/songwriter Brian Vander Ark seems especially inspired, sounding the alarm on an array of maladies and pitfalls—love, loss, romance, relationship, addiction, and abuse—without settling for a sound that’s bitter or despondent. Indeed, most of the songs manage to retain a tender touch, especially tracks like “Save Me,” “Set Me On Fire,” “The Freeze,” and “End of the World,” all of which boast a shimmer and shine. “The Witching Hour,” “First Fire of the Winter” and “No One’s Gonna Break Your Heart (Again)” take on a lilt and luster reminiscent of Jon Anderson at the helm of Yes, given an attitude that optimizes an upward view. Newcomer Channing Lee can also be credited with helping to maintain that effervescent engagement, manifest in a radiant glow that’s cerebral and celebratory in equal measure.

That said, certain songs lean heavily on platitudes that are both simple and straightforward, yet far from revelatory, even given their fanciful perspective. Anything worth finding is never easily found, they sing on “What Might Have Been,” suggesting something other than the obvious. The decisive and demonstrative “You Deserve Whatever Comes Around” aims to offer similar precepts, even though most appear inconclusive. 

Ultimately though, the new album may come across as a revelation to those more familiar with the band’s earlier output, especially given their grunge-like origins.  Consider it a most agreeable effort, a quality that finds Threads establishing a surprisingly solid bond. 

Photo by Jamie Geysbeek / SRO

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