There must be something in the air. How else can you explain the extraordinary run of Irish albums in 2015? From ASIWYFA to Young Wonder, it’s already been a bumper year, and it’s not even June yet. Even so, few would have been anticipating that a new record from Ash, eight years after they declared they were leaving the format behind, would be one to add to the list. Here was one career that seemed to have fizzled to a halt, leaving some sweet memories along the way.
As befits an album with such a title, the Downpatrick trio’s sixth long player hits you hard from the off. Often the sound of a veteran band trying to recapture past glories is simply an embarrassment but here Ash have managed to plug into their younger selves with great success. As such, Kablammo! is a huge amount of fun. Having explored the raw emotion of his father’s passing on last year’s Lost Domain solo work, Tim Wheeler has returned to his lighter side – making the tricky process of producing thrilling simple fizzy pop tunes look easy. The record dashes from highlight to highlight, the energy reflected by song titles such as ‘Let’s Ride’, ‘Free’, ‘Go! Fight! Win!’ and ‘Hedonism’.
Yet it’s not all foot to the floor guitar rock. ‘Moondust’ and ‘For Eternity’ are both lovely ballads, the former especially memorable, and on ‘Dispatch’ they find a groove that sounds completely outside of their comfort zone and works all the better for it. By adding elements of the mature lives to the joyous teenage noise that they first created, Ash have found a new way to move forward. It’s good to have them back.