Sep 3, 2008 at 12:00 am

A decade after the Verve and an accompanying wave of Brit-pop acts washed the grunge off listeners who'd grown tired of wearing flannel in warm climates, the band is back with enough "sing-it-in-your-sleep" hooks to hawk running shoes.

Forth is a lesson in contrasts — glossy production laced with gritty vocals; grandiose melodies disrupted by pensive lyrics ("love is noise, love is pain") — with the biggest contrast being between the various tracks themselves. Space-age reverb and layers of free-form guitars aspire to Radiohead-like complexity on "Sit and Wonder," while "Rather Be" plods along with a tinge of soul. The first single, radio-ready "Love Is Noise," unravels across a repetitive vocal effect seemingly sampled from Simple Minds, making it infectious if not irritating.

The Verve crams the rest of the album with slow burners, reminiscent of lead singer Richard Ashcroft's solo work, and collaborations with Unkle, that never quite sizzle in the end.