Ash - A-Z Volume 1 (Atomic Heart Records)

Steph Cosway | Sunday, 09 May 2010

Ash - A-Z Volume 1 (Atomic Heart Records)

Nobody knows how they did it, but Ash have pulled off the biggest PR stunt in history to celebrate the release of their singles collection A-Z (part one). Perhaps it was some sort of Irish volcanic eruption dance or some prior deal with a girl from Mars. But whatever the cause of the recent Icelandic haze the boys managed to get their name in every paper around, with people asking the vital question: 'What ever happened to Ash?'.

Well Charlotte Hatherley left and Ash decided to release 26 singles, basically. These singles each have a letter and a colour which is reminiscent of how singer Tim Wheeler 'sees' the track. So when will all this start, one might ask? Well, it already has...way back in October 2009 with track A: 'True Love, 1980'.

And not a bad song it is. Synthy and keyboard-laden 'True Love, 1980' mixes the electronic appeal of the 1980s with that 'Ash vibe'. You know, all Britpop 90s guitar and Wheeler's distinctive vocals. It all sounds very Suede meets Pulp – which to be fair is not a bad trait.

So what else does this singles collection have to offer? Tracks A-M, that's what! Yes, Ash have succeeded in their mission to make every song sound like a single. Unfortunately, a few of them sound like the same single. You could split this album into perhaps four or five songs; for a 14-track album is a tad alarming and very confusing.

'Arcadia' (C) is sounds rather like the little brother of 'Girl From Mars', while 'Ichiban' (G) sounds like a fresh new Ash V2 that exudes funky indie-dance fumes. Then you have the final M-track on the compilation, 'War With Me', which sounds like a new spacey version of classic song 'Everlasting Love' if you listen carefully enough.

But after that you delve into the land of carbon-copies. Track B: 'Joy Kicks Darkness' sounds like the second part of 'True Love, 1980'. For H you have 'Space Shot' which, yes, sounds good but is another song that leaves you thinking: "Have I heard this somewhere before?"

Even so, this album of singles is some achievement for the Irish boys. Any slight laziness can be forgiven for the gems contained within the stones. Part N-Z should make for an intriguing listen.

Rating: 3/5