Sound — 10
It's always nice to see people, being under forty and still feeling young inside. It gives you a hope that life doesn't necessarily become boring when you get older. I've got the same feeling when I listened to the new album by Ash -- guys are in their late twenties, but it feels like nothing changed in their souls since they were 18, when they first launched on album. They didn't become boring assholes, they didn't start to make "wise" songs. They just rock with the energy only teenagers can have and they have just proved that with "Meltdown." It's the first album release since their 2001 "Free All Angels," which got numerous awards. Awards in the UK. UK bands always had hard time getting big in the States, unfortunately, Ash is no exception. The new album was released in May 2005 on Record Collection -- another American record company -- their fifth in five albums. "Meltdown" was recorded in the LA studio, where Nirvana was working on their "Nevermind," produced by Nick Rasculincz, who previously worked with Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age and mixed by Rich Costey (Audioslave). Their influence is obvious. Due to the band's desire to hit American market, the album has some typically American sounding -- like teenage punkrock appearing here and there through the record. Most songs on the album have sing-along melodies on the backbone of heavy riffs. Drum beat is always stamping, which makes the songs be fun to listen to. Even though the music is guitar-driven, Rick McMurray's drums deserve a lot of attention. Think at least about that drum roll in "Detonate." I mean, how he played it? "Shockwave" reminded me of the old Underworld song "Born Slippy." The way Tim Weeler says "Give me love, give me love love..." sounds very close to Underworld's "Drive boy dog boy dirty numb angel boy." The song also has the most primitive drum solo. "Clones" is the probably the most discussed song on the album. It's the attempt to make "serious" music -- the one that can change your point of view, but I guess the problem is that it's not what everybody's waiting for from Ash and Weeler is much better in writing "fun" music. It's also the most heavy and aggressive track and it has the best riffs on the record. I don't see anything horrible in this track, as most Ash fans. Take it easy, guys. The guitar intense of the album is diluted by the only ballad "Starcrossed" right in the middle. It starts with squeaky guitar, which saves the song from being sugary sweet. "Orpheus," the first single from the album, kicks off with awesome energy, but somehow managers to loose it by the first chorus.
Lyrics — 10
If you expect something serious or heavy from Ash's lyrics, you would be disappointed. They're not pretending for anything, just making fun of writing lyrics. There are a couple of songs on the record though with an attitude -- "Clones" and "Meltdown." As in all their previous albums, here Ash uses a lot of weird rhythms and words, which is their exquisite trademark. Weeler may not have the best vocal abilities in the world, but he has his own manner of singing, which is much more important. His sharp voice suits the band's style perfectly.
Overall Impression — 10
I started listening to "Meltdown" being in a very pissy mood, but after a few track I was thinking "What the f--k am I worrying about? Everything's f--ing great!" The record gives you an awesome confidence, that doesn't matter how much shit happens in your live, you're strong enough to go through that. The explanation of that "hidden message" the album has may be in Tim Weeler's mood when he was writing songs for the album. Ash's singer/guitarist once joined February peace marches where "you go on a walk with two million people and it doesn't seem to make a difference." Quite frustrating, huh? That inspired him to write 14 songs for the new album. All them are impressively well-written and brilliantly played and produced. I was freaked out by the tattooed CD sleeve reminds more of Motley Crue, than power-pop Irish vets. Not that I don't like it, it's a wonderful CD art, but I've got doubts it suits the album. The record doesn't have any obvious catchy tunes, that stay in your head forever since you first hear them. That helps "Meltdown" to sound like something new after you've listened to it a thousand times.