Ash “Islands”

What are the ingredients for an Ash song? We’ll definitely need some mention of Summer or a summer kind of feeling. Obviously there’s a lot of love involved, whether its brand new, unrequited or ending. Add some cheekiness and a heck-load of sweetness and everything should taste great.

Ash’s seventh album Islands opens strongly with a very 90’s feeling True Story, and second single Annabel has the kind of lyrics 1995 me would totally imagine front man Tim Wheeler singing directly to me. OK. 2018 me wouldn’t say no either, but my point is, so far this album sounds like 90’s Ash and I am all for that. I’m singing along already on my first listen. This is a good sign, Ash. Well done.

The album was written on various islands (hence the title), and it documents all the stages of a break up. There’s the memories of the love, there’s anger, sadness and of course heartbreak and regret. Desperately wanting the answers to all the ‘why’s?’ which live on in our minds for sometimes years later. But there’s also the upside to all those downs. Silver Suit is full of summery optimism, picking yourself up and heading out over the horizon to start again in the morning.

I had to laugh at the title of It’s a Trap. Once a Star Wars fan, always a Star Wars fan I guess. It’s a sad song with an uplifting message. Don’t get sucked back in, you’ve got this. Stay strong.

There are definite touches of Weezer and Arctic Monkeys. Fans of the 90s/early 00s sound will be satisfied, while songs like Confessions in the Pool has a dancey synth sound I’ve noticed in many radio songs lately.

Finishing up the album is Incoming Waves, beginning with a lovely piano line and simple acoustic guitar, and a reflective look on what had once been and what there is still to come. Its a positive end to a relationship that clearly made an album long impact on Wheeler. I spoke to him before I started listening and he mentioned this was his favourite song on Islands, but it was hard to choose. It’s an excellent ending to a contemplative album. You do feel like you’re walking along with him as he goes over everything he’s learned and is still pondering.

I’ve had a few of these songs pop up in my head over the last few days of listening. I don’t think they’ll have any problem finding a spot in a live set, and maybe we’ll find out for sure in a venue near by later this year.

Album Review By Carly Whittaker

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