Ash give up on making albums but go out with a bang
Fifth time round and, post-Hatherley, Ash could finally be growing into men. After dragging the first flushes of teenage love out ’til their 30th birthdays with ‘Meltdown’’s misjudged hair-metal stylings, ‘Twilight…’ is a reassuringly pop collection from Downpatrick’s cartoon wreckheads. But this time, the three-minute pop gems are stretched out with strings and emotion. Take the aching ‘Polaris’, whose piano and trauma make it their most mature single to date; a development that’s paid off on the prog-drama of the title-track finale. Elsewhere, ‘End Of The World’ ties widescreen drama to spring-loaded new wave, ‘Blacklisted’ flirts with stoner rock and ‘You Can’t Have It All’ (presumably about Charlotte’s choice to leave) proves their original formula still works. In fact, Ash come close here to that which has always eluded them: an album that amounts to more than the sum of its singles.
It’s an artistic watermark that makes the news that this will be the last conventional ‘album’ Ash release a little bit ironic. Their future will instead be a cavalcade of singles not tied to the three-year album cycle. Time can only tell whether this is a revolutionary step in the remoulding of business models or a throwing in of the towel, but it would be a crime if this precluded them from breaking further ground in the style of ‘Twilight…’. If, however, this means that Tim Wheeler will be releasing three-and-a-half minute vignettes about rolling through green fields with rosy-cheeked maidens well into his 40s, well, that’s one more good thing in life that we can still depend on. But it’s funny how things turn out.