There were more than a few sceptics when Ash announced that they wouldn’t ever make another conventional LP instead concentrating on downloads only. The download market however hasn’t quite become so dominant that physical releases are redundant and so the band have ended up releasing not one but 2 CDs this year. (although both are compilations not LPs!)
Whether or not this project has been a commercial success for Ash, A-Z Volume 1 certainly marked a musical renaissance for the band. Managing to pretty much sustain single quality songs over the first 13 releases, the fact that the extra tracks included on the CD were also more than decent augured well for Volume 2.
And yet, could any band really sustain that over another 13 plus songs? Volume 2 unfortunately suggests not. Part of the trouble of course is that there isn’t that much room for further musical innovation. Sure there’s a 10 minute plus instrumental (‘Sky Burial’ which starts brilliantly but loses its way somewhat in the second half of the song) and even a rare all acoustic number (‘Change Your Name’) and, yes, there’s plenty of electronics again with ‘Binary’ close to being an out and out disco number. But everything else is only a couple of degrees removed from a counterpart on Volume 1.
More importantly the songs just don’t capture the imagination in the same way as those on Volume 1. ‘Dare To Dream’ may have made sense as single N in a 26 song run, but it’s doesn’t have half the impact as an LP opener as ‘Return of the White Rabbit’ did on Volume 1.
I don’t want to be too negative – A-Z Vol 2 is far from being a bad LP. And it’s not that there’s nothing here of single quality, ‘Spheres’ and ‘Summer Snow’ would sit comfortably on the first LP. But A-Z was billed as 26 singles every fortnight and on that basis Volume 2 doesn’t really cut it. 6/10
Buy the LP here.
Ash play two dates in Scotland in November – tickets for Dundee and Edinburgh here.