Even more a solo record than Coming Down -- longtime co-producer John Rivers handles the drum programming, while one-song appearances by Natasha Atlas and another singer, along with bass player Sylvan Richardson, count for the rest of the personnel -- Foolish Thing Desire isn't always as fun and interesting as Ash's first effort, but still has some strong points. Where Coming Down very much was of a dark piece for all its variety, here Ash sounds like he's trying on a number of styles and approaches to see what works. At times, it sounds like he's straining to rock out a bit, something which Ash never had a problem with before. He never comes across like so many burnouts who create cruddy corporate rock they think is somehow exciting, happily, but at points things sound a little too shrill and forced ("Here She Comes" was a bad choice to start the album with, at the very least). When it connects, though, Desire does capture the blend of art and power which characterizes his best work. Many of the songs follow a fairly basic style, like that of longtime hero Marc Bolan, but as with the T. Rex leader, what matters is how they're arranged and performed. The title track is a fine number, highlighting his Bolanish tendencies (acoustic guitar lead and whispery vocals) while mixing in a little Phil Spector-style wall of sound/tearjerker drama via electric guitar and synths to boot. Other songs which fit the bill nicely include "Dream Machine," with an excellent synth/string arrangement at its end, and "The Void," a majestic acoustic/electric combination that recalls prime Love and Rockets numbers as "An American Dream" and "The Teardrop Collector." Throw in a fun "Waiting for the Man" knockoff called "Roll On" and a subtle Bauhaus reference in "The Hedonist," and while Desire isn't perfect, it certainly has its charms.
Foolish Thing Desire Review
by Ned Raggett