RPA & The United Nations of Sound – United Nations of Sound
Having walked in the shadow of his self-assumed messianic status since the release of The Verve’s critical and commercial haymaker, Urban Hymns, Richard Ashcroft has long since struggled to artistically back up his perceived talent. From his also-ran solo recordings, to the mediocrity of The Verve's reunion album, Forth, the gap between the man and the music has widened, with the arrival of United Nations of Sound providing a chasm.
Employing his well-oiled, string-rich staple sound, Ashcroft here attempts to blend urban influences, with almost universally disastrous consequences. Opening track, and debut single, Are You Ready, passes as an acceptable addition to Ashcroft’s canon, however from there on the album descends to unbelievable depths of both self-absorption and born-again religious posturing - fronted with Ashcroft’s bargain-bin rapping-styled delivery – rendering it almost comical at times. Ashcroft may view this latest project as an ascension back to the forefront of the British music scene, but realistically it sounds like the death knell of a once promising career. [Paul Neeson]