ALBUM REVIEW: Ash – Race the Night
Ash are back with new album Race The Night – and what an outstanding piece of music it is. Their eighth studio album in the 30 or so years since forming in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, Race The Night is the follow-up to their 2018 highly acclaimed Islands album. The band had initially intended to release the new record not long after, however it was their two years apart due to the pandemic in which the childhood friends ultimately found inspiration.
The album kicks off with the title track Race the Night, a song which vocalist/guitarist Tim Wheeler describes as a “chance encounters and grasping opportunities with both hands.” The combination of guitar work and keyboard melodies are sure to make this one of the standout tracks on the album. Another single from the record is Usual Places, which Wheeler explains is “the sound of the band revelling in the shear joy of being a band after being separated by time and distance through the insanity of the early 2020s”.
Reward in Mind features what bassist Mark Hamilton calls “the best ever guitar hooks in our catalogue.” It’s certainly very pleasing on the ears alongside the opening lyrics: “a seven day weekend/the chaos never ends/wake me up I must be dreaming/my friend with benefits.”
Oslo is the record’s big ballad, a duet between Wheeler and Dutch singer Demira. The song’s deep lyrics are beautifully presented with Demira’s vocals shining through.
Like A God is unusual in that it has been split into two parts and is an epic track. Hamilton comments on the song as such “the plan is to have a proper circle pit stampede when we play it live.” One to look forward to then.
Peanut Brain is the shortest song on any Ash album at 1:40, but that doesn’t take anything away from the song with it’s thrashing punk backdrop.
Crashed Out Wasted is a song that hooks you straight away and is almost like two songs in one, starting off slowly but by the end the guitars are thrashing. Some of the solo guitar playing on here is outstanding. Drummer Rick McMurray jokingly describes the song as “his attempt to sum up 29 years of heavy drinking in one drum part.” This track will go down well with fans on the band’s upcoming tour with The Subways.
Braindead is very heavy on guitars throughout, with a catchy chant right in the middle of “here we go, here we go,” which will catch on with the crowds at the live gigs. Wheeler describes Double Dare as “a rocking Beastie Boys type song, with a lot of braggadocio in the lyrics”. The song features turntablist Dick Kurtaine, who had previously worked with Ash in 1998 on Nu-Clear Sounds.
Race The Night sounds so fresh it could very easily be a chart topping album – it was certainly worth the wait.
Standout Tracks: Race The Night, Like A God, Crashed Out Wasted
For Fans Of: Supergrass, Manic Street Preachers, Feeder
Written by: Alan Brown