Ash: Teenage Wildlife: 25 Years of Ash (BMG) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Teenage Wildlife: 25 Years of Ash


Feb 20, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

“GUARANTEED REAL TEENAGERS.” That was the promise on the back cover of Trailer, Ash’s 1994 debut mini album. In the first week of 1995, the NME deemed the trio from Northern Ireland an up-and-comer poised to break out that year, claiming that Ash were “the only band in the world who’ve turned down supports with Green Day and Pearl Jam because of homework.”

At an age when most people would be satisfied to snag a spot at a good college, singer/guitarist Tim Wheeler, drummer Rick McMurray, and bassist Mark Hamilton finished their studies and immediately went on a two-year run of successful Britpop-punk and grunge-kissed UK singles: “Kung Fu,” “Girl from Mars,” “Angel Interceptor,” “Goldfinger,” and “Oh Yeah,” culminating with their first proper full album, 1977. Now here they are, celebrating a full 25 years together, and the men of Ash are only in their early 40s, and play like they never left their 20s.

Teenage Wildlife compiles two discs’ worth of singles (and one disc of rarities that includes a faithful Buzzcocks cover with Coldplay’s Chris Martin dropped in the chorus) to show the group’s career arc, which lacks in truly bad turns, bloated ballads, or ill-advised experiments. The notion of a narrative is doubly sabotaged here by the running order having no regard for chronology. Throughout Teenage Wildlife, Ash’s top tunes from every era intermingle. The point about their creative consistency is made, though the swing in production values can on occasion be a little jarring—like when, for instance, their third-ever single “Uncle Pat” brushes up against the Ivor Novello Award-winning “Shining Light.”

Wider American audiences were periodically exposed to Ash in the ‘90s with film soundtracks; first for Angus (“Kung Fu” and “Jack Names the Planets”) and then for A Life Less Ordinary (the title track, which kicks off this compilation), while the “Burn Baby Burn” video got some MTV time in 2001. If they deserved a bigger U.S. breakthrough—the amount of alt-rock dreck that got pushed on the airwaves instead of Ash in the ‘90s was a shame—that doesn’t seem to have fazed the band, judging by the vigor of recent singles “Buzzkill” and “Confessions in the Pool,” not to mention that Wheeler has called New York City home for years. Guaranteed still teenagers. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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