Back in the 2000s, we used to cover positively Boston mod-pop band The Pills. Since breaking up the band, Corin Ashley has been periodically releasing solo material and functioning as a session player with the likes of Cardinal & Martin (Boo Radleys) Carr. In January of last year, Ashley suffered a stroke which threatened to curtail his musical career but Ashley never gave up on himself and new album Broken Biscuits is a testament, not only to his talents, but to his resilience.
Although, on a cursory examination, most of the new album sounds like a McCartney-esque pastiche, there is much more to Broken Biscuits, once one digs beneath the surface. In fact, the album is a heartfelt paean to the classic pop-rock of the 60s/70s and whilst the nods to Macca are obvious, there are enough references to other McCartney/Beatles acolytes (e.g. ELO, Badfinger, Pilot, XTC etc) to keep things fresh.
The opening rocker “Little Crumble” is a magnificent exercise in rock ’n’ roll histrionics – full of vim and vinegar as Ashley harnesses the inherent power of pop music astutely. The energy levels are off the charts and Ashley’s vocal performance is something to behold, especially when you consider that he had a paralysed vocal cord after his stroke!
Conceptually, the album is about Ashley putting himself together as he recovered from his unfortunate health issues and in that respect, Broken Biscuits is a life-affirming power pop masterpiece. The infectious “Wind Up Boy” (featuring Tanya Donnelly) and the vaudevillian “Edison’s Medicine” rise up from these dark times with a jauntiness that is hard to ignore.
Everything we have ever loved about true-blue pop-rock music is celebrated enthusiastically by Ashley in Broken Biscuits, and conceptually and musically it declares that despite the difficult circumstances faced in life and within the modern pop music industry, all that matters is the art of music, the music that is our very own. Nothing else matters.
… still there’s more …