Ash - Free All Angels

When the Melody Maker went at the end of last year it was the end of an era. Time had simply moved on and people didn't care about skinny white boy indie bands anymore. That was until Ash made their comeback with "Shining Light". Not that the traditional indie press were forthcoming with frontcovers. Instead they took the bull by the horns, used the internet to re-establish themselves and then promptly went straight into the Top 10. It appeared that Ash had regained some of that youthful energy that made us fall in love with them in the first place.

Ash have always been a pop band and to their detriment "Nu-Clear Sounds" was a record that seemed to rebel against nothing. Maybe they were harking back to the old punk ethic of success=sell out. You could say they had to go through that stage in order to get to where they are today. "Free All Angels" has the kind of optimistic spirit so lacking in British guitar music and in that respect it does hark back to the "1977" album. Its more than that though and in truth the recent singles "Shining Light" and "Burn Baby Burn" aren't true representations of the album as a whole.

On the dirty guitar funk of "Submission" we see Ash recalling the days of EMF and early 90s dance-rock crossover acts. Begging for a hip hop work over and one of the numerous tracks which should see heavy rotation on Match of The Day. On the likes of "Candy" and "Someday" the only real let down are Tims vocals. Its commendable though to see a band trying to push their personal limits rather than playing to the tried and tested formula. Despite this new found experimentation the likes of "Sometimes" and "There's A Stars" are the tracks likely to win the hearts of teenage girls.

With the world in their hands "Free All Angels" will not disappoint, Ash have made a truly great punk-pop album. In the same way that "1977" appealed to a generation of teenage pop kids, this album will appeal to the next generation 5 years on. It seems you can't keep a good man down.

Alex McCann