Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ash - Twilight of the Innocents (Infectious)

If we're looking at things scientifically, Twilight of the Innocents should be a near-perfection article of genius. See, Ash albums have a noticeable pattern. First came the TKO magnificence of debut 1977, followed by the floundering Nu-Clear Sounds. Then the bar was once again raised via the tremendous Free All Angels, making fourth album Meltdown a comparable mess. By rights, this ought to be one of Ash's greatest efforts.

Given that 2001's Free All Angels was effectively an album full of singles, it actually makes sense that Ash have chosen to abandon the album format altogether. That said, this may go down as a foolishly-uttered gimmick based on the content of Twilight of the Innocents. By no means is there anything even resembling filler here, yet at the same time, there's nothing that reaches out and slaps you in the chops as an immediate classic.

Take the heavily American flavour of Blacklisted. All the correct elements are there - robust melodies, crunches in all the right places, unmistakably Ash. But it just lacks the kind of fervour that made them monarchs of the charts and airwaves as well as the music press. And while her solo album would suggest otherwise, perhaps Charlotte Hatherley took the pop sensibilities with her, leaving a far more serious, understated Ash than we're used to, whether they're fencing the stellar ballads or the hormonal, hyperactive rock.

Yet, despite a slight lack of impact, Twilight of the Innocents reveals itself to develop with time, if you're willing to put the hours in. The raw, fiery Princess Six, the jittery drumbeats and breathy harmonies of End of the World, or the mesmerising, hook-brimming Ritual prove that Twilight of the Innocents is, given an ample opportunity, stuffed to the rafters with big riffs, big ideas, and a mighty showcase for the sheer genius of Tim Wheeler.

And yet, the criminally-underachieving masterpiece that is Polaris indicates that perhaps this specific route of slow-burning symphonies might require some revision if the Singles-Only fad is to be pursued. Nonetheless, Twilight of the Innocents is testament to the unmatchable aptitude of one of the UK's greatest contemporary bands. And, on reflection, the songs may not be immediate, but they're nothing if not classics.

No comments:

Creative Commons Licence
The Sloppy Dog by www.thesloppydog.co.uk is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.