Ash are losing their edge...
Jon Bye

09:19 30th March 2010

Ah it must be spring. The BBC is showing Lambing Live, the sun is out (all be it fleetingly) and Ash have released another album so they have an excuse to do the summer festivals. Seriously, you never see them in the winter do you?!

Never the less they're back and as a three piece. And there isn't any denying that even after numerous years and hundreds of (usually summer) tour dates  they still rocketh mucheth..

Let's face it, this was never going to an introvertive depths of the heart plundering record. Ash are reliable in their delivery of pleasant, if disposable, pop rock. A-Z Vol.1 gives this in bountiful amounts.

Focussing on this as an album rather than the crazy publicity stunt in which they were released – each track released, one every 2 weeks in A to Z (thus the name). Ash never used to need to resort to that type of PR stunt, so for my purposes we'll pretend that they didn't (and that there isn't a Vol.2 due in six months time).

Clearly this isn't the same act we heard the last time around. Ash are one act whose sound tends to grow quite organically, instead of to sound like whatever is popular (Lostprophets, take heed). There's a new synthy sound to many of the tracks. Yet on this album it all feels a bit rushed and as a result, the synth tones work to differing effects. The crazy disco-vibe  'True Love 1980' is a certain fail point, while similarly huge sounding 'Space Shot' is take-it-or-leave-it.Yet most-likely lead single 'Arcadia' benefits by the more than a touch of the electro monumentalism. - even if it does tread all over the toes of Muse. 'Ichiban' too treads the electro-line carefully, before breaking into a more pumping piece of garage rock..

And arguably this is always where Ash will always be at their best. Though these rocky moments are far fewer on A-Z Vol.1 than should be, 'Command' is a brilliant return to form likely to rival 'Burn Baby Burn' for a top spot on whatever best of inevitably occurs.

All this would be bearable if it wasn't for Ash's one attempt every album to write a love song that invariably fails. This time its 'Song of Your Desire' and you just don't want to know.

It feels on this one that Ash are losing their edge a little, grasping at straws to get a new sound to stop them retreading old ground. Its really not worked . So Ash, please – stick to the rock and roll you're good at!   

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