Following the poor reception of Alone With Everybody, Richard Ashcroft's second solo effort sees the former Verve frontman looking to recapture his glory days.

But Human Conditions is a record that reinforces the status-quo rather than sees Ashcroft taking any real musical steps forward. When it's good, it's brilliant. But at times his penchant for self-indulgence drowns his music in his ever-expanding ego.

The superb single, Check The Meaning, kicks the album off in fine style - as good as anything Ashcroft ever did with The Verve. Yet the expectation that produces cannot be maintained and the result is a record which meanders rather than lights up the senses. The tender Lord I've Been Trying and The Science Of Silence are signs that Ashcroft can still cut it when he wants to. Unfortunately, he seems obsessed with trying to sound like he did five years ago. So Human Conditions inevitably becomes an album of missed opportunities rather than a defining work.

Steve Carroll

Updated: 10:25 Thursday, October 31, 2002