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ALBUM REVIEW: "Weather Diaries" by Ride

Wichita Recordings
"Weather Diaries" is Ride's first album in 21 years.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Ride – Weather Diaries (Wichita Recordings) 2017

Riding the wave (literally, if you look at the hypnotic album cover) of shoegaze in 1990, Oxford, England-based rock quartet Ride dropped Nowhere, an album that became a classic of the genre, and featured “Dreams Burn Down,” one of the most amazing songs of that era, and the band’s best.

And back then, Ride – vocal/guitarists Andy Bell and Mark Gardener, bassist Steve Queralt and drummer Loz Colbert – were concerned about things like being in the presence of an “effortlessly cool” woman who is “forbidden,” as on “Dreams Burn Down,” or where Bell sings “We never have enough time to show our love,” on the swirling, dreamy and percussive “Vapour Trail.”

But as the guys in Ride approach middle age, their concerns and worldview are a bit different, not that they’ve lost that drive to create a fine record, as they have with Weather Diaries (produced by Erol Alkan).

It’s raining today / Conspiracy? Or one more anomaly / When I was younger, it was simple / You didn’t need to question everything,” sings Bell on the slow-burning and vaguely ominous title track. In the world of 2017, when conspiracy theories (weather modification, in this case) run rampant, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s “fake news.”

Ride has clearly opted not to avoid the topics of the day. The album opener, “Lannoy Point,” has a certain, throbbing urgency, as Queralt and Colbert fall into sync and they sing, “A face of reason equals treason.”

Bell and Gardener – sounding like men on the run - add that perhaps when the human race finally destroys itself – and it seems to be on that path – “a better sense can start again.

And this, created in a Tory-led Britain that seems lost at sea, that confusion spreading like a contagion throughout that “green and pleasant land.” Remember this isn’t some Thatcher-era punk band or Billy Bragg or Killing Joke. This is Ride, man!

The trademark shoegaze sound is still here, so old fans can rest assured it’s still the same Ride, but with Alkan’s modern production savvy, a song like “All I Want” has decidedly cool “dream-sheen” that is very now. And not just the music. Again, the news is pretty grim pretty much everywhere, and Ride are just telling us the obvious by singing: “Strange people are on the rise / One day they’re gonna come for you,” as Colbert’s staccato/rapidfire drumming keeps coming at you.

Oh, and we should note that it’s not all melancholy and grey. Bell’s “Home Is a Feeling” is more from the old-school Ride playbook, with the emphasis on “feeling.”

Dreams are never far when Ride is concerned, including dreams about walking with literary icon David Foster Wallace or surfing with Robert Anton Wilson on “Lateral Alice.”

Colbert tries a hand at writing a song, the explosive pop number “Rocket Silver Symphony,” which sounds like a song recorded and performed by a band half their age. And that’s a compliment, I assure you.

The last few songs on Weather Diaries – “Cali,” “Impermanence,” and “White Sands” – sort of wash over the listener, with “Impermanence” being the latter-half standout.

I will admit that I was not expecting such a thoughtful and engaging album from Ride, even though I’ve admired their music for years. And they’re in good company as other shoegaze notables, including Slowdive, Swervedriver and The Telescopes all release new albums.

 I compliment them on being honest and putting their heart and soul into the project.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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