Ash - Twilight Of The Innocents

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3 jui. 2007, 5h07m

Given their past output, I think Ash are probably one of the best-suited bands out there for a singles-only existence. That doesn't mean I won't miss their album releases though, and I've been looking forward to hearing Twilight Of The Innocents.

I Started a Fire was the first track I heard from their new album, when they posted a free download on their myspace in February. It's energetic, alt-rock, guitary - very Ash all round. It sounds like a single, and apparently was considered as one, but the band decided they wanted to give it away free instead as a sampler. I like that the fast pace continues throughout - for me, Ash tend to slip up when they try to do slower songs, so this was a good example of if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it.

You Can't Have It All was the next track I heard, and the first single released from the album. I like the bassline and the bursts of guitar; some of the riffing is pretty nice. The chorus is pretty catchy, though I think 'I Started A Fire' succeeds in being catchier without seeming to try quite as hard. The rest of the song decent though less notable, but it works well enough at supporting the chorus.

Blacklisted seems to be pitched pretty low for an Ash song, the opening in particular sounds unusual. The annoying side of Tim Wheeler's voice seems to be shown up by this song, sadly. I do like the chorus a lot however (catchy again!), where the vocals and guitar work well together. The rest of the song isn't wrecked by the singing, but the vocal style just irritates me a bit on this one for some reason.

Polaris is the second single from the album. I saw the video before I heard the song on its own and weirdly took a dislike to it based on that. Once I listened to it without the video, I realised that I actually like it a lot after all - perhaps I was just expecting something faster and rockier from a single, or perhaps it was the Ash-tries-to-do-a-political-statement-video that turned me off. It's unusually quite piano-y, features some strings... I think 'sweeping' is the most fitting word here. It's not what I was expecting from them, but it really works well.

The count-in at the start of Palace of Excess seems a bit contrived, and opening with a line like "dancing with the trustafarian daughters" doesn't earn them any points. The song improves when it hits the chorus, though it feels like it should have rocked out a little more when it chooses to cut back. Though there's some amusing showoff riffing going on here. The choice to rename this song from 'Suicide Girls' is an odd one, when each chorus features "suicide girls, suicide girls, suicide girls" and "palace of excess" crops up only once in the lyrics. Bit disappointing, the song seems to promise a fair amount but never quite hits it.

End of the World has another irritating opening, with some random panicked sounds (presumably meant to convey the approach of the apocalypse) which then segue into a smooth little poppy number. It's cheerful, but perhaps a bit too smooth to be very interesting. And about 90% of the lyrics consist of "Is this is the end of world?" repeated over and over.

Ritual has a great rhythm to it, and is generally a good solid track. It has some nice guitar work, but the chorus tries slightly too hard to be dramatic. It's not an utterly amazing song, but it's a pleasant one.

Shadows is another decent song that never manages to do anything fantastic. It just strums along happily and goes a bit too pop during the chorus.

Princess Six is another song that's somehow very Ash. It's a nice bit of guitar rock with a decently fast pace, and the chorus works a lot better than some of the previous attempts on this album. As usual for them, it sounds pretty cheerful despite lyrics along the lines of "and I will never know how it really feels to be with the one that I really need". Another solid offering.

Dark and Stormy comes across as Ash making an attempt at a different sound, but it doesn't pay off fantastically well. It's a bit slow and jangly, and never really gets to go anywhere.

Shattered Glass has some pretty nonsensical lyrics, but mostly manages to pull it off. The pacing sometimes seems slightly strange, and there's an instrumental section that goes on for a bit too long. Having said that, the guitar does sound good in the chorus sections, and the song is almost a minute longer than the previous track but doesn't drag on in anything like the same way.

While the first couple of tracks on this album are the ones I heard earliest, Twilight of the Innocents is the one I really remembered from the new tracks Ash were showing off at live shows (though it was 'In Hell' then). This was the real standout of their new material, so I had high expectations when I finally got to hear it recorded, and it didn't disappoint. It takes a bit of the sweeping character of 'Polaris', going for a slow start and building up. It repeats the same lyrics a lot, as 'End Of The World' did, though not as overwhelmingly, and it really works here. This is the best track on the new album, and not unrelatedly, demonstrates more progression in Ash's sound than any other track on this album accomplishes.

On the whole, Ash seem to perform most consistently when they stick to their familiar single-friendly formula, but the real standout tracks are where they've managed to develop something new in their songs - in particular Polaris and TOTI.

Commentaires

  • psychomode

    Good review - and I'm glad that somebody's being optimistic about Ash's singles-only future. No doubt we'll be hearing some incredible stuff from them in the future.

    4 jui. 2007, 6h14m
  • Featherfin

    This is the best track on the new album, and not unrelatedly, demonstrates more progression in Ash's sound than any other track on this album accomplishes. I entirely agree.

    8 jui. 2007, 0h00m
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