Off Key with Eric D.

Eric D'Orazio

Nowadays, it seems as if every conceivable band is releasing a “greatest hits” collection of some sort. From Nirvana to the Manic Street Preachers, these groups are merely compiling and reissuing their back catalogue of hits with the inclusion of a couple of new or unreleased songs for fan consumption. Though many of these compilations are quite good as a whole, they force fans to purchase what is essentially an album of previously heard material with the added bonus of a song that wasn’t good enough to make it on any of the bands’ albums in the first place. And in truth, such seems to be the case with “Intergalactic Sonic 7’s,” the new singles collection from Northern Ireland’s own Ash. Yet there is a catch.

Having put out four albums with 18 corresponding singles in the past eight years, Ash doesn’t seem likely candidate for its own proper “best of” set, at least not yet for that matter. Though many of those singles have met relative success in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe, they have barely broken the United States market, let alone had any airplay with great permanence. Yet the band’s reputation for truly magnificent songs, both in content and performance, has come before them. With this in mind, the importance of “Intergalactic Sonic 7’s” can be understood.

Unlike many “greatest hits” collections found today, Ash chose to place their singles in a non-chronological running order on the compilation. By doing so, all their songs play quite well into one another. Starting with “Burn Baby Burn,” their current single and most popular hit to date, the album goes through a conglomeration of hits and misses throughout the band’s history. There are fiery, fast-paced tracks like “Kung Fu” and “Jack Names The Planets” that showcase Ash’s early punk rock beginnings, and tender slices of balladesque Britpop in the form of “Sometimes” and “Candy” that display the more popular side of the band. Even the singles from their third and most unsuccessful album, “Nu-Clear Sounds,” are very welcome in the collection’s tracklisting, providing a pessimistic edge to its overall pop prowess.

Though their previously released material is very well played on Intergalactic Sonic 7’s, the best song by far is “Envy,” Ash’s 19th and newest single. Recorded especially for the single’s compilation, the song displays all that is good about Ash and their songwriting. Its content deals with the most desirous of the seven deadly sins, as implicated by the title, but provides such a delectable discourse on the subject that it would be almost life threatening not to listen to the song. In truth, the only thing that beats out the song’s content are its incredible hooks, both in guitar and vocals. Like most of their songs, it pulls you in and never lets go. Only this time around, it happens within the first few seconds of hearing it.

So after eight years in the spotlight and 19 singles to show for it, Ash have made one of the greatest “best of” collections in recent history with Intergalactic Sonic 7’s. The catch to its greatness over other seemingly “recycled” hits compilations is simply the fact that few people in America have even heard Ash’s full body of work, let alone their full potential. With this compilation in hand, they may enjoy just that. All in all, it just goes to show that not only are they good, they downright kick Ash.