Ash - KABLAMMO!
KA-fucking-BLAMMO! ?! Come on! It's a shame Ash downplay both their capability and their intent from the off on this, their first album since 2007's Twilight Of The Innocents, with an unnecessarily wacky title. You'd have thought they'd have ditched the clowning around a good couple of decades ago because with Tim Wheeler's song writing credentials all but inarguable, his band's live reputation properly cemented and the challenges of their A-Z singles club series setting them a creative test most of their peers would have no doubt shirked, the old men of the UK indie scene – they must be, ooh, nearly old enough to vote by now – shine ever bright amidst the grey flotsam.
Let's be clear: KABLAMMO! offers absolutely nothing you've not heard before. It perhaps, by dint of its metallic heft, has most in common with 2004's Meltdown. Either way, it's a sharply crafted set and you'd nominate at least a couple of tracks ('Hedonism', the crunching 'Let's Ride') for a 'Best Of' - no mean feat for a band approaching its quarter century. Elsewhere, the instrumental 'Evel Kneivel' (shades of Pixies' 'Wild Surf') and the closing ballad 'Bring Back The Sun' tweak the template a little. Of course, all of this is moot because in how they've managed to retain buckets of goodwill by being a) not dicks, and b) uncommonly canny with a choon, Ash have become nothing if not critically bullet-proof. So, regardless, KABLAMMO! is a likeable, if not entirely essential, addition to an under-valued back catalogue. Forever young? Oh aye.