Released: 14th February 2020
Teenage life may be long gone for Ash, but as this round-up of the last quarter of a century shows, few ever captured it as well as the County Down band. Seeming to arrive fully-formed at the tender age of 17 with their mini-album debut ‘Trailer’ in 1994, the trio of Tim Wheeler, Mark Hamilton and Rick McMurray quickly perfected their brand of indie pop-punk with a string of ridiculously catchy bangers. Dodging all the usual band-related catastrophes, their harder edge allowed them to ride the waves of Britpop’s implosion, shrugging off line-up changes, and they still manage to pack out venues long after the limelight has moved elsewhere.
Perhaps wisely set up like a playlist on shuffle, there is an easy ebb and flow to ‘Teenage Wildlife’ – but even now, it’s those late-90’s bangers that make the biggest impact. Britpop Dads will still clutch their hearts at ‘Girl From Mars’, while the likes of ‘Kung Fu’, ‘Shining Light’ and ‘Burn Baby Burn’ are still pretty much untouchable. Even when the hits dried up, this collection shows that they (mostly) never forgot how to bang together the perfect three-minute single – even including the one new track here’ Darkest Hour Of The Night’.
Sure, at 54 tracks long there is the odd misfire and repetition creeps in at points – but the structure of the record means that a glistening gem is always around the corner. As a perfect reminder of one of the most under-rated bands of the 90s, it is pretty much hard to beat.