Back on fire again

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - TONY CLAY­TON-LEA

We’re al­lowed to change our minds, you know. And so it comes as no great sur­prise that, fol­low­ing Ash’s an­nounce­ment in 2007 that their al­bum Twi­lights

of the In­no­cence would be their fi­nal one as a band, along comes a new stu­dio record. In fair­ness, they waited eight years to ad­mit that their “sin­gles only” pol­icy might not have been such a good idea, but cre­ative types aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the best at com­ing up with busi­ness mod­els.

And so, fol­low­ing what re­ally was a good idea (their A-Z se­ries of 26 sin­gles re­leased through­out 2009), the band took time off to re­think and re­fresh.

Cue col­lab­o­ra­tive/solo work from Tim Wheeler (no­tably 2011’s This is Christ­mas, with Emmy the Great, the best col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal Christ­mas songs in many a year, and last year’s se­ri­ously un­der­rated de­but solo al­bum, Lost Domain. While still un­der the cosh from a busi­ness point of view ( Kablammo! was made via the fan-fi­nanced plat­form PledgeMu­sic), there is no sense at all that Ash are tak­ing it handy in the song­writ­ing depart­ment.

They were al­ways (rightly) viewed as one of the best bands of the past 20 years to give tooth­some pop melodies some of punk’s ser­rated edge, Kablammo! is the kind of al­bum that will raise the bar even higher for other acts with sim­i­lar am­bi­tions.

Cocoon sets the mood and the pace: a flurry of drum fills, criss-cross­ing gui­tars, Wheeler’s sweet voice, and a melody that flits be­tween pop and hard­core. And so it con­tin­ues for the next 36 min­utes or so.

Let’s Ride is gui­tar-shred heavy and pop-song light; Free, and Moon­dust, are slow-build pop songs un­der­pinned by liq­uid gui­tar work, and the in­stru­men­tal Evel Knievel kicks off with a di­rect lift from Thin Lizzy’s Whiskey in the Jar.

No more al­bums? With Ash, it seems no means yes. Cheers to this one – and the next. ash-of­fi­

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