Ash Nu-Clear Sounds

Ash have grown up a bit, and as they say goodbye to their teenage rock star years, they also seem to be bidding farewell to a lot of the sizzle that they are capable of. Nu-Clear Sounds is somewhat disjointed — not surprising given the seemingly random mix of A-list producers (Oasis and Verve man Owen Morris, Butch Vig, Arthur Baker). As a result, their third CD lacks the consistency of their outstanding prior release, 1977. There are still some great tracks that hint at Ash’s potential, such as the rousing opener “Jesus Says” or the down-tempo “Folk Song.” But even though they crank things up from time to time, the pop hooks just aren’t there. Often, this sounds like a rough demo album — commendable if that was the intent, but I suspect otherwise. Sadly, even the addition of a new member, Londoner Charlotte Hatherley, didn’t advance the sound of this Irish combo. One would think that a woman’s touch would have had some affect, but Ms. Hatherley’s talents seem to have gone to waste. Overall, the songwriting sounds rushed — tracks just don’t seem to reach the crescendo that one expects from such a young, energetic band. (Dreamworks)