- 15 Sep 23
Tim Wheeler and the boys deliver the goods
Seconds into the opening, title track on Ash’s eighth long-player and it’s clear that the Downpatrick trio have lost none of the vim, vigour or verve that propelled them to the upper echelons of the charts as teenagers. Now the wrong side of 40, there’s thankfully no sign of Tim Wheeler, Rick McMurray and Mark Hamilton slowing down.
’Race The Night’ is Ash at their poppiest: all soaring melodies and pummelling drums, it’s got the kind of catchy chorus most bands would trade their tattoos for. Current single ‘Usual Places’ is not just an addictive earworm, it’s also a bittersweet reflection on the ageing process: “Still reminiscing about the old disgraces/ The drunken chases on the staircases”.
‘Crashed Out Wasted’ starts out as a tender, synth-driven meditation on rock ‘n’ roll excess that turns into a six-and-a-half-minute prog-rock masterclass, complete with a two-minute-plus guitar solo. Aching ballad ‘Oslo’ sees Wheeler duetting with Amsterdam-based electronic artist, Démira, beginning with a simple acoustic guitar, before morphing into a sumptuous, string-drenched production.
The trio still know their way around a catchy hook, from the spiralling coda of ‘Reward In Mind’ to the infectious fuzz-pop of ‘Peanut Brain’ or the muscular hair-metal of ‘Double Dare’ and ‘Like A God’, the latter pair a throwback to the heady days of Motley Crue and Def Leppard in their ‘80s pomp.
There’s something wonderfully reassuring about the fact that 27 years after their debut album, Ash still sound like pissed-up teenagers crashing the party, and having an absolute blast.