This is a shame, as they have produced one of their best albums.
I Started A Fire is a great, loud opening to the album. Originally available as a free preview via their myspace page, and given away as a DVD with a homemade video at the High Education tour, this showed that Ash were back in business. With a great intro that leads you into a crash of drums and guitars, there were calls by the fans for this to be the first single from the new album and you can hear why. Instead we got...
You Can't Have It All. Starts off with a simple guitar melody, which builds in a thumping piece of classic Ash pop-rock. With some very personal lyrics by Tim, and a typically catchy Ash chorus, some might argue this is Ash by numbers, but when the boys are on this kind of form, you can't really argue. And the guitar solo that kicks in just before the two minute mark, and is then repeated, will have many an Ash fan doing their best air guitar in front of the bedroom mirror.
Blacklisted does have a kind of American-Pop/Rock/Punk feel to it, but that's not a bad thing, as it's a great song. The guitar playing about 2.20 minutes in lifts the track even higher. Big, loud, noisy and brilliant.
Polaris, the second single from TOTI, and is another Ash ballad that shows the band can do more then just pop/punk/rock. A beautiful intro, which was originally written on Bono's piano. The lyrics in the chorus have a heartfelt innocence to them that many songs lack these days. Unfortunately it seems people like nonsense lyrics, songs without passion and 5 minute bubble gum pop, as this only charted at no.34.
Palace Of Excess didn't leave much of an impression on the first listen, but is a bit of a grower, which is unfortunately let down by a sub-standard chorus. You'll either love it, or it will become one of those tracks you skip, to get to the better songs.
End Of The World would have made for a better second single I think, and a better choice of single promotion for the album. More typical Ash, with another catchy chorus that they seem to do so well. The more I listen to this, the more it grows on me and I love it, brilliant track. This is one of those songs that will make your friends listen too. Loudly.
Ritual, been waiting to hear the opening of this ever since I heard the first bootleg, and I wasn't disappointed. A great stand alone guitar intro, that grows into a live favorite. One of the best songs lyrically on the album from Tim, which a lot of us can relate to. Maybe can't see it as a single, but a great album track. Ends with another guitar solo that brings the song to an end nicely.
Shadows, doesn't really do much for me on a first listen, and for a while was my second least favorite track on the album, but the chorus has grown on me and has helps to save the song in my opinion. Nothing bad, nothing brilliant. Just a good, solid, album track.
Princess Six was one of the first songs to be previewed on the pre-album tour, and like many an Ash song, has a great guitar chorus. Another great album track and brilliant live.
Dark And Stormy is one of the quieter tracks on the album, and is a good change of pace after Princess Six. Very easy to both listen to, and just as easy to get lost in the song. But it doesn't leave a lasting impression like some of the other songs.
Wasn't too sure about Shattered Glass at first, but as the track goes on, it really kicks in. Great chorus, and has really grown on me. To me does the same job on this album that Vampire Love does on Meltdown. Again, not a single choice, but great album track, and helps to set you up for.....
Twilight Of The Innocents, a track that, like everybody else, I've loved since hearing the first bootleg and hearing it live for the first time. Tim has got the vocals nailed spot on. They sound beautiful and sad, with a delicate musical beginning, both getting stronger as the track goes on. When the track really kicks in around the 3.40 mark, it still sends shivers down my spine, no matter how many times I've heard the song. Amazing and brilliant.
So, my overall views of Twilight Of The Innocents?
I think it's a fantastic, I truly do. Some classic Ash along with hints of what else the band could do in the future.
Palace Of Excess, Shadows and Dark And Stormy haven't really grabbed me. But then, I can't remember the last time I heard an album and loved every track. Stand out tracks for me? You Can't Have It All, End Of The World, Ritual and Twilight Of The Innocents.
And to end the album with the title track is perfect, a beautiful finish to a great album.
For me its better then Meltdown, Nu-Clear Sounds and, in my opinion, maybe slightly better overall then Free All Angels, which I feel maybe had the stronger singles overall. But is still slightly behind 1977, their debut album, in terms of greatness.
Well worth the wait, and a rare occasion where my expectations for an album are actually met and not let down.
They won't get it, as I feel their no longer seen as fashionable with either the music press who would rather promote identikit new bands, or the music buying public, who seem to have lost touch with what makes music such a powerful and moving experience, but Ash deserve chart, and world, domination with this.