In late 2015 I had the chance to see the recently reunited Ride play in Seattle at the Neptune Theater. Though they were / are beloved for their early shoegaze records, I have a soft spot for their brief flirtation with Britpop. Not sure what to expect, I went into the show eager to be blown away (and to catch Andy Bell up close so I could snap a photo for my Oasis loving brother). What I experienced was one of the best shows i’ve ever seen (as well as the loudest). A set heavy on 1990’s Nowhere and 1992’s Going Blank Again, I could feel the venue shaking as the white noise built and built. Unexpected, transcendent, euphoric. Well, what’ll you do for an encore?
I’ve made no secret over the years how much it irks me when a band reunites and never puts out an album. It seems like a cash in (and to be fair, some of those bands deserve it). Fortunately, an album was in the cards the entire time for Ride. Weather Diaries arrives 21 years after their last album, and it stands in stature with the band’s strongest moments. What I love about this latest album (and has led to some reviews that are all over the map ) is that signals a new direction. It would have been easy for Ride to crank out a noisy shoegaze album whilst ignoring some of the other sounds they’ve created in the many years since. Instead, they’ve taken the best bits of their history and gone forward with it. I’ve had it on repeat for a few weeks now, and it is still as fresh, invigorating, and nuanced as the day it was released.
On an album full of highlights, what songs to talk about? The album opens with Lannoy Point – one of the clear bridges to the past. White noise, building towards a crescendo, a catchy chorus, it really is a stunning opener. Lyrically, it takes on the world scene and the UK’s place in the world “We’ll be wiser when we fall / Like the dinosaurs before / When we’ve swept ourselves away / A better sense can start again”. 1st single Charm Assault is a punkish number that is probably not what people were expecting as the 1st sounds from the new Ride record. I love it. Doesn’t sound quite like anything else in their discography. Lyrically, the band are calling out the political leaders of this day and age “Your charm assault / Has scarred the world / It looks so ugly / As your lies begin to unfurl”. Weather Diaries is quite simply a masterpiece. The title track is a slower number that builds, tugs at the emotions, and lyrically deals with Brexit. Those lyrics could also double as a commentary on a relationship, and that duality takes the song to the next level. Resignation, sadness – it is really quite a tune. “It seems you never know / Which direction life will blow / You never know what someone’s thinking / Until they’re just about to go”. Cali sounds like a girl group rave up with a healthy dose of fuzz. Summery. California. Perfect. The album closes with White Sands – a slow burn of a song. Meditative, haunting. A perfect album closer.
The album is out now and comes highly recommended. I’ve returned to it countless times and can’t see that changing anytime soon.
Verdict: A Masterful Way Forward
For Fans of: Slowdive, Mansun, Lush, Teenage Fanclub, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Curve
- Lannoy Point
- Charm Assault
- All I Want
- Home Is A Feeling
- Weather Diaries
- Rocket Silver Symphony
- Lateral Alice
- Integration Tape
- White Sands