Fans of the influential band Ride are being richly rewarded for their Job like patience. It has been over 20 years since the last installment to the Ride discography. Many fans have despaired over whether the band would ever reunite again. The long wait is now over. On June 16th Ride released their 5th studio album”Weather Diaries”. The album finds gathered together the original members of the band on a release that displays all the added depth of experience and wisdom they have gained in the interim. Where their last release 1996’s “Tarantula” underwhelmed, “Weather Diaries” presents a rejuvenated band relishing in the idea of simply doing what they do best, making inspired music.
Ride was formed in 1988 in Oxford, UK and was initially labeled under the Shoegaze genre. A label the band was less than pleased to be given, as they felt more of a kinship to bands such as The Smiths, Stone Roses, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. The band members were and are Mark Gardener on lead vocals and guitar, Andy Bell on vocals and guitar, Steve Queralt on bass and Laurence “Loz” Colbert on drums and percussion. The band selected the name Ride for the feeling it evoked of travel and also for the Ride brand of cymbals. Their well received live gigs and support from the likes of Jim Reid of Jesus and the Mary Chain eventually gained them a record label signing with Creation records. 1990 would see the release of their popular debut, “Nowhere” which would reach number 11 on the UK Album Charts. That release was followed by the 1992 release of “Going Blank Again” which would reach number 5 and be certified gold. Unfortunately fatigue and band infighting would rear its ugly head just at the point where the UK music scene would drastically turn against all things Shoegaze.
This situation both internally and externally would add additional pressures to the unfavorable environment transpiring in the recording studio. The members would struggle with how and if they should attempt musically to morph into something else. The band would decide to turn from their trademark sound to a more classic rock approach. They would also decide for the first time to split the song writing duties between Bell and Gardener revealing just some of the turmoil going on between the band members. Both songwriters would lead the band away from their roots hoping to change their fortunes but that choice would prove to be a bad decision. The subsequent third LP 1994’s “Carnival of Light” would reach number 5 on the UK charts but overall was not well received by critics. Even the band would turn on the album in retrospect calling it “Carnival of Shit”. The release of 1995’s “Tarantula” would finish off any semblance of unity in the band. The self destruct button had been engaged and the band breakup ensued. “Tarantula” would be panned by the critics and many in the music industry believed a proper Viking funeral could appropriately be conducted for the band.
For two decades the prediction that Ride was finished would prove to be correct. Andy Bell would move on to join Oasis, Mark Gardener would collaborate on a number of musical efforts and start a solo career, while Queralt and Colbert would almost completely drop out of the music business. 2001 would see the band do a one off reunion for a Sonic Youth documentary but again shelve the band. It would take until 2014 for a true reunion of the band to take place. Ride would intermittently tour for the next three years. They would cap off the reunification of the band with the announcement of the release of “Weather Diaries”. “Weather Diaries” was recorded over a period from 2016 till 2017 with D.J. Producer Erol Alkan at the production helm. Also reunited with the band was long time collaborator and legend Alan Moulder who mixed the release. For the music industry the album signifies another seminal shoegaze influencing band making a comeback reclaiming the glory that was once theirs.
“Weather Diaries” is an album their well wishers and fans will love. It is quintessential Ride reconfigured for the 21st century. The release is a clever display of the disgust the band members have with the current political situation. This frustration is conveyed within the insightful lyrics, driving drums and chiming guitars that are trademark Ride. The album begins with “Lannoy Point” and the thrill of those crystalline guitars and jaunty energetic vibe make for a satisfying experience. The track captures the sound which launched a thousand chill wave bands like School of Seven Bells and The Horrors. I don’t know if I can toss enough accolades at “Charm Assault”, a more prescient song for the last few weeks in the UK could not be found. It is a full on attack on the mendacious façade of politics. The lyrics are spot on, “Charm Assault get out of my brain, you can leave but the lies will always remain…looks so ugly as your lies begin to unfold”. Add to the lyrics the masterly guitar onslaught and swirling psychedelic ambiance and you have a winner of a track. Other songs are awash with familiar pounding drum rhythms, shimmering soundscapes and harmonies galore. All the while the lyrics continue to caution like on “All I Want” warning of our modern day intolerance as akin to 1930’s Germany. On “Impermanence” the theme is to not let life pass you by and change as a constant.
The title track “Weather Diaries” is a sprawling creation not to be missed as it magnificently conveys the sonics of a storm brewing. Another highlight is “Rocket Silver Symphony” which is a soaring marriage of sounds akin to Mogwai and Tame Impala making for an unforgettable track. “Cali” is a sunlit dose of jangle rock and an oh so cleverly contrived summer song. My personal fave is the last track “White Sands” which is nuanced but alluring and shows off all of the band members gained musical wisdom in a spiraling and surreal styling. The song is gentle yet has almost immeasurable impact. Throughout the eleven tracks there is an inspired blending of past excellence, wisdom learned along the way and a desire to bring about the glorious resurrection of the band. “Weather Diaries” is a testament to the group’s commitment to their original mission and each other.
Ride has regained their mojo creating and presenting a fresh and ingenious release. “Weather Diaries” is a welcomed return for the band and an outstanding work from now seasoned musical pros. It is a satisfying disc for longtime fans and a wonderful revamp for new prospective fans to savor. Hopefully the release signifies more to come from these veteran musicians.
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