Richard Ashcroft Keys to the World (EMI) Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher called him Captain Rock for his obsession with his art while the British music press dubbed him 'Mad Richard' for the drug-addled gibberish he'd often spout on everything from the nature of the universe to his choice of shoes. But Richard Ashcroft came into his own - and re-entered Earth's orbit - when his band the Verve finally hit the big time with its Urban Hymns album in 1997. Since then, the tensions that had pulled the band apart once before took on greater proportions and they called it a day as they stood on the brink of world domination. Ashcroft hasn't fared so well since. His first two solo albums lacked the catchy pop hooks of the sublime likes of the Verve's Bittersweet Symphony and he's been forced to fall back on his alma mater's repertoire to bolster his live sets. Despite protests to the contrary, he still hasn't quite emulated his Britpop golden days with this third effort. Patchily listenable and uncomfortably spare, it occasionally veers worryingly into jazz territory before redeeming itself with one or two powerful folksy acoustic numbers. Although World Keeps Turning is lyrically a defiant two-fingers to the mainstream, it never really gets going musically. Elsewhere, the raving Sweet Brother Malcolm is so vague it could be about Malcolm X, but then again it could as easily be about Malcolm in the Middle.