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Twilight Of The Innocents

Recently revealed to be the last ever Ash album, Twilight Of The Innocents re-announces the group's commitment to melody and proves they have successfully re-ignited their creative spark.

Rating: 7 ½ / 10

Kilian Murphy, 14 Jun 2007

Ash’s full-length albums have tended to follow a strict pattern; an immediate, catchy punk-pop record is succeeded by a less-appealing, metal-tinged set. They are a brilliant pop group, who occasionally get an unfortunate urge to be a mediocre heavy rock band.

Let’s recap: Wheeler and co.’s stellar debut 1977 preceded their plodding sophomore effort Nu-clear Sounds. 2001’s return-to-form Free All Angels paved the way for another disappointment: 2004’s gurning, bombastic Meltdown.

But the cycle continues, so the time for another good Ash release has rolled around once more. They are a trio again, following the departure of Charlotte Hatherley, but it doesn't seem to have dampened their spirits.

Ash’s better records have usually been rewarded with superior sales and greater acclaim, but they may have to make do without the former this time; people have grown tired of their inability to deliver consecutive killer releases, and their reputation as teenage heartbreakers will limit their appeal as they grow older.

But, this shouldn't bother them too much, as they have successfully re-ignited their creative spark. The opening ‘I Started A Fire’ is a breath of fresh air: lean, purposeful, punky and poppy – it serves as a timely reminder of Tim Wheeler’s songwriting skills, and re-announces the group’s commitment to melody.

The lads maintain this momentum for an impressively large chunk of Twilight Of The Innocents. ‘You Can’t Have It All’ and ‘Blacklisted’ have a lovely air of end-of-summer melancholy; classic-Ash-by-numbers, perhaps, but none the worse for it.

They also remain one of few groups who can pull off epic, string-laden ballads without sounding sappy and bombastic. ‘Polaris’ and ‘End Of The World’ are crashing, monumental slabs of stadium rock, yet they still manage to resonate when played in a more intimate environment.

Things run aground during the last three tracks; Wheeler’s touch deserts him on ‘Dark And Stormy’ and ‘Shattered Glass’, while the title-track (and closer) is a dark, moody epic, which never thrills in the way that Ash’s shorter pop nuggets do.

Still, for the most part, this is a welcome return to form. But beware: another rubbish Ash record is surely just around the corner.
Rating: 7 ½ / 10

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