The Verve notes
When the band was still together, I wish they'd ditched all those strings, especially live. There are exceptions, like "Bitter Sweet Symphony," which was absolutely necessary to the song's impact, but McCabe was the creative focal point and smacked a little bit of predictability. By this time on "Urban Hymns" Nick was a background presence. The band arguably became too much about Richard. No diss. He should get all the credit in the world for The Drugs Don't Work, So Sister, etc, but the band had veered too far into the realm of traditional songwriting composition. I don't have the details, but I imagine one of the frictions between the two was Richard wanted to embrace what fame had to offer, and that included an identity with the people via traditional songwriting. McCabe is quoted as saying he doesn't like ballads, or I assume he doesn't favor traditional ballads. "Where the Geese Go" and "6 O'Clock" at best are loosely categorized as 'ballads' but really are not, especially the former. There is no escaping tradional songwriting structure (verse-chorus-verse, etc), but without those unmoving principles by McCabe those songs would never have been possible. (When producer Owen Morris said, 'You can ask Noel Gallagher to play the same guitar line a hundred times and, as long as there's a good reason, he'll do it. With Nick, you've got no chance. He just doesn't want to.')
In the end, I suppose the road The Verve chose was a happy medium. McCabe, by choice, had to move on from ASIH-era, and at the same time I imagine he could never recapture that period. They were never the same, and it depends upon your perspective of if the glass is half-full or half-empty. Each album after is inferior to the one before (ASIH>ANS>UH>F), and we Verve fans should just be grateful for 1993-94.