Release Date: Jun 9, 2015
Record label: earMUSIC
If we’re talking albums only, then it’s been a while since Ireland’s finest power-punk-pop trio Ash released anything – 2007’s Twilight Of The Innocents being the most recent. It marked a change of direction from more accustomed, dynamic bursts of short punk-inspired pop synonymous with earlier releases generally making way for more ‘mature’ sounding songs, the phenomenal title track quite possibly being the most epic and adventurous cut the band have ever produced. But that wasn’t the last time the band surfaced: in an attempt to get ahead of the game and embrace the way the new digital age was taking music, they decided to take a new approach, one that saw them release 26 singles and embark on a tour from Aldershot to Zennor in 2009.
When they first arrived in 1994, Ash's energy couldn't be denied. They sounded like the teenagers they were, something that gave their records considerable kick, but such enthusiasm was bound to wane as they grew older. Certainly, Kablammo! -- a record that arrives 21 years after Trailer -- has a different feel than the band's mid-'90s work even though Ash stay true to their enduring love of punk-pop and classic guitar pop, a decision that can't help but focus attention on how they've turned into expert craftsmen.
Damn, Ash were FUN weren’t they? A seemingly endless party of cacophonous choruses, teenage kicks and “one louder” licks. A comet of vomit, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll blazin’ from Northern Ireland to the Toppermost of the Poppermost via the Skywalker Ranch. “Genuine Real Teenagers” and true “daft punks”, but with the songwriting smarts to craft stellar 45s—18 UK top 40 bangers—good enough to bag them an Ivor Novello Award.
Northern Irish trio return to new wave to bash through the radio-friendly basics. In the past decade the album, alongside the entire genre of rock music, has been prematurely declared deceased. Some artists now talk about “projects” or, worse still, that previously unmentionable suck-up to the man, “campaigns”. Yet for all the bold talk and acknowledgement that people genuinely consume music differently today, no one has come up with a better way of releasing a bunch of new songs than an album.
When Ash announced in 2007 that it was their intention to eschew the album format from now on, it will have been a concept which made sense to many, even if few expected them to see it through. Their knack for a brilliant pop song may have eventually come to work to their detriment, with the unfortunate side effect being the development of a reputation for being a ‘singles band’. If this is the case, I’d consider this a little unfair, because unlike the likes of Weezer none of Ash’s albums have ever felt particularly bogged down with filler.
Kablammo! is Ash's first full-length since 2007's Twilight of the Innocents. Though they made their mark as a part of the Britpop movement, Ash's rough-and-tumble side differentiated them, their sentimental lyrics and dreamy melodies balanced by bad-boy guitar shred. Ash created electric forcefields from hazy shoegaze, galactic and glowing, with dynamic builds and climaxes that verged on combustible.Unfortunately, their later releases didn't have quite the same effect.
Irish rockers Ash have been churning out spring-loaded punk-pop since the mid-'90s. During these two decades, the trio have matured from bratty romantics with a heart of gold into marbled hard rockers, while expanding their knack for sterling chorus hooks and a tendency toward sincere expressions of love and longing. All of these elements are present in spades on Ash's first studio record in eight years.