Teenage Wildlife — 25 Years of Ash (BMG)
Here we are, a quarter of a century into the career of Northern Irish indie rockers Ash, and they remain largely an unknown entity on this side of the Atlantic. For a while, specifically in the mid- to late-’90s, they were a household name in Britain — headlining festivals and large venues, and sitting in the upper reaches of the charts. In alt-rock terms, their success is comparable to the likes of Weezer and latter-era Pixies.
And boy, do they deserve it. This two-disc collection proves over 36 tracks that Ash could churn out amazing music that spanned the spectrum of post-punk, flowery indie, proto-glam and bubblegum pop-rock. They’ve got it all.
The album opens with “A Life Less Ordinary,” the main theme to Danny Boyle’s 1997 romantic comedy of the same name and probably Ash’s best known song in the States. It’s a strong introduction, and it leads into the decidedly less well known but equally awesome “Arcadia” from the 2010 A-Z compilation series. Anthemic, joyous and mildly melancholy, both songs give the newbie a flavor of exactly what Ash are about.
From there, the journey is glorious and stretches right up to their most recent studio album, 2018’s Islands thanks to “Annabel” and “Confessions in the Pool.”
All of the albums are represented, though it makes sense that the compilation is heavily weighted towards the more popular early material: the fiery ‘Burn Baby Burn” from 2001’s Free All Angels, “Jesus Says” from 1998’s Nu-Clear Sounds, and all of the beloved singles from the 1977 opus, including the pop-punk beauty of “Kung-Fu,” the bizarre ballad “Girl From Mars,” “Angel Interceptor” and “Goldfinger.”
The early Trailer EP is represented to, thanks to the trash pop of “Jack Names the Planets.” And that’s about it. For the Americans who are still largely unaware of Ash, dive into this. You won’t be sorry.
Ash’s Teenage Wildlife — 25 years of Ash is released digitally on February 14, with the physical release in the U.S. coming on March 6.