As befits a band that's a teen-culture purist's dream, Ash spent part of the four years since its last album producing its own horror movie. Innocent of all things emo or artsy on its new album Meltdown, Tim Wheeler's Belfast quartet rips through glam-casual anthems about clones, vampires and breath-stealing crushes. Others have reached for this candy-coated brass ring -- among them England's Gay Dad and Billy Corgan's Zwan -- but never with such a consistent knack for hooks, riffs and the underappreciated art of romantic sci-fi metaphor. If you can't get the beautiful alien succubus next door into the sack with "Star Crossed" -- which elegantly boils down Shakespeare to a three-minute power-popera -- just give up.

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