Ash‘s 6th LP Kablammo! is just ‘a bit too familiar‘, says CJ McCanney
It’s hard to believe that Ash have been around for over twenty years. First coming to the public’s attention with 1994’s mini-album Trailer, the band has, through varying fortunes, plied a solid line of punk pop tunes, plaintive rock ballads and heavier numbers. For many slightly greying 30-somethings the band’s earlier hits act as musical madeleines, recalling the carefree summers of yore. In the wake of the lacklustre reception to their 2007 release, Twilight Of The Innocents the band eschewed album releases, concentrating on issuing a string of 26 singles. Kablammo! marks the band’s return to album releases and is their sixth album proper.
Wheeler et al get off to a strong start with “Cocoon”, a two minute wonder with echoes of their classic “A Life Less Ordinary” and a passing resemblance to Snow Patrol’s Spitting Games. This is followed by “Let’s Ride”, a decent slice of Weezer-esque noisy pop. Third track, “Machinery” is an early album highlight. Anthemic but nimble and with a dash of grandiose melancholy, “I never felt true loneliness until the day we met”, the song is only tarnished by a couple of lumpen lines.
“Go! Fight! Win!”, the album’s fifth track is perhaps the weakest moment on the album, a plodding by the numbers rocker that barely leaves an impression. “Moondust” is a pleasant sci-fi tinged ballad that would sit comfortably on the band’s 2001 release, Free All Angels, while “Evel Knievel” is an innocuous hair metal pastiche. Another strong number, “Shutdown”, brings to mind mid-career REM. The gospel-tinged “For Eternity” and “Bring Back The Summer”, an ‘80s washed nostalgia trip, round out the collection.
The band can certainly still craft a decent tune but everything here sadly sounds a bit too familiar and even the fresher numbers on the album are marred somewhat by uninspired production. The album is not without its merits and will likely appeal to the band’s loyal core following and many of the songs sound like they will come into their own live. However, too few songs on this record can hope to hold a candle to the many gems in their illustrious back catalogue. Any casual fan of the band hoping for a return to form will have to wait a little longer.
Kablammo! is released on May 25th. Ash are playing live on:
May 29th – Tower Records, Dublin (in-store) May 30th – Slane Castle, Meath (with Foo Fighters) June 7th – Whelans, Dublin SOLD OUT June 8th – The Limelight, Belfast August 1st or 2nd – Indiependence Festival, Cork