If you’re a fan of Ash, you will not be disappointed. Wheeler’s falsetto chorus and the band’s controlled attack are like old friends returned. the album is nothing like as polished as Free All Angels; it was, like many, Crowdfunded and I guess without a major label backing, much of the sheen of FAA and Meltdown was trimmed off. It’s benefited Ash; they sound leaner, hungrier and quite frankly, burn like they’re having a whale of a good time. Evel Knievel is a virtual instrumental and shows that none of the bands surfy punk of earlier albums such as Trailer has been forgotten.
Go! Fight! Win! takes a little of Big Audio Dynamite’s poised tech-rock and adds it to the typical Ash fleet-of-foot light and shade. Moondust recalls some of the orchestrated moments from FAA with lush, restrained strings embracing Wheeler’s celestial-gazing voice.
Shutdown is a return to the star-shell punk rock of their earliest records. Exploding out of the blocks like the teenage riot they once were, the intervening years are swept away.
It’s good to have Ash back and in form like this, anything is possible.
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.