Ash – Free All Angels

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Having re-conquered the charts with two undeniably infectious singles, the third album by Belfast’s Ash has been nothing if not long-awaited. (This is their third album if you exclude their mini album called TRAILER released before their first full-length album 1977 which was followed by NU-CLEAR SOUNDS). Many of the songs started life while frontman Tim Wheeler was sunning himself in Costa Rica, and the album was recorded a year later in Southern Spain. All that sun must have gone to their heads cos this record positively gleams.

From the opening summery vibe of WALKING BAREFOOT, to the hell-for-leather punk rush of WORLD DOMINATION, this is music to make you grin from ear to ear. First single SHINING LIGHT set the tone, but really it was only one part of the whole, joyous panorama of the album.

Owen Morris’ production is pristine, sharpening the chugging, electric riffs of SHARK, NICOLE and CHERRY BOMB, and softening CANDY and SOMEDAY with lush strings. Perhaps the most stunning song here is the penultimate THERE’S A STAR, with its epic James Bond intro and rousing, orchestral sweep.

While there’s plenty of variety to be found here 9SUBMISSION, co-written with drummer Rick McMurray, is a funky lo-fi ode to S & M), the album works well as a whole – consistently high quality and frequently dazzling. Nearly every track is a potential single.

An irresistible collection of songs, demonstrating just how far Ash’s music has come. This is the sound of a band going from strength to strength.

5 stars