Release Date: Jun 16, 2017
Record label: Wichita
As musical ambition was replaced by earnest rock - preferably with strings and anthemic choruses - six minute proggy indie featuring keyboard work from ex members of Black Sabbath (Jon Lord) and co-writes from former Beach Boys managers (Jack Rieley) fell off the agenda. What's particularly harsh is that despite Suede , Pulp , The Auteurs , Denim etc. all benefitting from the Britpop musical umbrella, Ride arguably released two of the very first 'Britpop' tracks on their classic second album, 1992's Going Black Again ("Twisterella" and "Making Judy Smile").
When Beady Eye split, there was much rejoicing from right-thinking minds around the world. No longer would we be burdened by their turgid, trad-rock drivel! Hurrah! However, the absolute best thing to emerge from this dissolution was Andy Bell's new freedom to return to Ride. The band has always been a little bit special to me. When I was in high school, my French teacher lent me a copy of Going Blank Again (thanks, Mr.
What separated Ride from their 90's shoegaze peers was their wildly fun, cocksure take on the sound. The four lads from Oxford fused the genre's trademark melted guitar tones and dreamy songwriting into youthful power pop that maintained its immediacy even during the band's noisier tendencies. After releasing two classics, 1990's Nowhere and 1992's Going Blank Again, Ride's hot streak stalled with 1994's middling Carnival of Light.
When Ride's fourth album, 1996's Tarantula, was deleted by Creation Records after just one week, it marked a sad end for a band who had once burnt so brightly. From 1990's wondrous debut Nowhere through to 1992's Going Blank Again, Ride seemed an unstoppable force. Armed with great tunes and cheekbones to match, they were arguably one of the UK indie scene's biggest bands, capable of landing Leave Them All Behind - an eight-minute-epic of feedback and drone - inside the top ten in an age when success for such a group usually meant a brief appearance on the Chart Show.
Lengthy career gaps now seem to be de rigueur, specifically for any one of the leading lights of the early 90s indie scene. Be it the nature of live music today, or a genuine resurgence in interest in shoegaze, Ride, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine et al can now headline festivals, and tour bigger venues than ever before. Naturally then, reformation albums follow.
Over the years we've probed Ride again and again about the possibility of new music. Kudos to them for keeping coy through all of our haranguing (which, no doubt, they've received from everyone they've ever spoken to in the 20 years since their dissolution.) When and if a new album did arrive it would be up against staggeringly high expectations. When rumors were finally confirmed, there was a growing sense that Weather Diaries could only be one of two things: the record that lived up to fans' dreams, or the one that crushed them.
Ride know what they're good at. 'Weather Diaries' is the band's first album in 21 years, following 1996's 'Tarantula', released shortly after the band's split, and this record has the band harnessing their greatest strengths as they aim to step outside their comfort zone. Though 'Weather Diaries' is a solid effort from a band trying to balance their mastery of shoegaze with other, outside elements, the strongest tracks on 'Weather Diaries' are when the band fully embrace the skeleton of the songwriting formula they'd perfected over two decades ago.
F or a genre that had shuffled out of the spotlight by the mid 90s, shoegaze is in remarkably rude health in 2017. Two months on from the well received return of Slowdive comes another assured effort from one of the genre's big beasts, Ride, releasing their first album in 21 years. But where Slowdive's new self-titled album felt like a meticulously preserved rendition of the feedback-swaddled sound the band were producing in their heyday, Weather Diaries sees Ride broaden their horizons.
"A better sense can start again," sings Mark Gardener on "Lannoy Point”, a metronomic meteor spinning tightly along a Korg Poly 61 synth pattern. The song's lyrics are a rebuttal to the current Brexit-ified social climate in Ride's native land, one that is mirrored and magnified here in the US. All the same, it's hard not to imagine at least a tiny trace of self-appraisal in the idea of 'starting again' coming as it does on the opening track of Weather Diaries, the band's first album since Tarantula in 1996.
ROCKS LIKE: Title Fight, Nothing, Beach House WHAT'S DIFFERENT: For their first new album in over two decades, this U.K. quartet don't dare to try and replicate past glories. Just as their 2015 reunion tour proved, they're approaching the "dream pop" sound they helped cultivate in the '90s with well-earned maturity and some fresh influences such as ambient electronica and modern strains of psychedelic rock.
Not even a quarter century ago, shoegaze was being written off as a lifeless genre being killed off by grunge and the impending Cool Britannia movement. One Melody Maker writer even proclaimed that he'd "rather drown choking in a bath full of porridge than ever listen to it again. " And yet, 25 years later, almost all of the scene that celebrated itself's main bands have returned to overdue glory.
During a 27-month period in which they released four EPs and two albums, Ride grew from a charmingly scruffy composite of inspirations into a source of gleaming nuggets that mixed power pop and dream pop with confident emphasis on the former. At the end of this phase, Ride recorded a song about entering a time machine. When the band reappeared two years later, they sounded and looked as if they had taken one through the late '60s.
2017 marks Year Four in the Great Shoegaze Reunion cycle, a period that’s produced new material from the genre’s originators that’s ranged from good (Lush’s Blind Spot EP , Swervedriver’s I Wasn’t Born to Lose You ) to great (Slowdive’s self-titled outing from earlier this year) to essential (My Bloody Valentine’s long-gestating and revelatory m b v ). It also marks the year that the last of those original titans (apologies to Catherine Wheel and The Boo Radleys) break their two-decade silence: Ride, finally, has returned. Over the course of more than two years of reunion shows that earned glowing reviews in the UK press, the Oxford foursome of Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Steve Queralt, and Loz Colbert periodically retreated to the residential confines of Vale Studios in their home county to weave together the follow-up to their 1996 misfire (and heretofore swan song), Tarantula .
Reunion albums, by definition, mark a new chapter in a band's life--when nostalgic critical acclaim is superseded by a rather more discerning eye. Rarely, though, do these albums mark a genuinely new musical chapter. That makes Weather Diaries, the first album by Ride since they returned to the live scene in 2015, a rarity. It's new but also different for Ride, with occasional moments of retrospection--like the harmonies that introduce "Charm Assault" or the kaleidoscopic chorus to "All I Want." Ride mostly sounds like another beast on Weather Diaries--one that, for better or worse, exists firmly in the present.
Over the past few years, the leading lights of the shoe gazing scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s have been steadily returning to the fold. Just like the first time around, My Bloody Valentine were the pioneers, and while 2013's m b v wasn't quite up to the standards of their remarkable early work, it was certainly a welcome comeback. Earlier this year, Slowdive's first album in 22 years emerged and surprised everyone by being arguably the best record of their career.
Ride had an initial trajectory that could be called tumultuous, depending on who you ask. The early Ride material was classic shoegaze. In fact, alongside Loveless and Souvlaki, Nowhere is one of the most canonized of all shoegaze albums. At one point, r/shoegaze had a rule that none of those albums could even be brought up without getting permanently banned, such is their ubiquity in discussions of the genre.
Shoegaze attracted fans because it sounded like the realization of rock's fondest dreams about itself. Forget what the Ramones and the Beatles sung about--millions of their fans got off on their sound. Tumult as sensual abandon. Noise as release. Bush I-era shoegaze promised immersion in an aural ….
Interviewed for the Creation Records fansite in 2001, Steve Queralt was asked where he thought it all went wrong for Ride, the Oxford shoegaze pioneers he once twanged the bass guitar for. "Releasing Carnival of Light," was his honest appraisal. "After Going Blank Again, I felt we were at a fork in the road and that we took the wrong route." Despite singing about one, Ride are not in possession of an actual time machine, but they have done the next best thing on their triumphant comeback album, Weather Diaries, by returning to that fork in the road - albeit with another 25 years of life experience under their belts.