CD/ DL / LP
Released 16 June 2017
When Ride reformed for their 2015 tour dates, almost two decades after their tumultuous end, it was received with high hopes from those who’d held the band and their albums dear across the years. For the band it turned into an unexpected but welcome chance to explore some of their unrealised potential, to not just surf a wave of shoegaze nostalgia but more excitingly to begin creating again.
And so the news of Weather Diaries, the band’s first new album since 1996’s Tarantula, was met with bursts of excitement and trepidation from fans – would these new tracks pick up from the potential of the band’s classic early albums, or tarnish that legacy?
Fortunately Weather Diaries does very much the former, in the band’s approach and in the sound it is in that classic shoegaze vein with spun out and hazy deep dives but it is more too. It’s an album which draws on their past but sets out their ambition for the future, resonating with classic sounds much broader than the band’s own catalogue.
Older fans won’t be disappointed in songs like opener Lannoy Point, nor title track Weather Diaries – a highlight of the album begging to be played on repeat. Both employ all the trademarks of the shoegaze sound, with echoing guitar and mists of synth, vocals sitting well down in the mix as the rhythms drive incessantly. There’s a simplicity in the overall form while keeping interest through the intricacies in each part, the greater weight of wisdom in the lyrics becoming an anchor from which the songs can float.
And there are moments where Ride show a possible future direction, stepping forward from pure shoegaze while avoiding the rock trap they fell into with the later albums of their first incarnation. The pop blast of Charm Assault, the simple verse juxtaposed with the bursting choruses of Rocket Silver Symphony, and the alt-rock scratching guitar and laid-back vocal of Cali. Album closer White Sands mixes electro tones with resonating keys, a minstrel feel to the opening vocal before a more jammed feel takes over the slow-build before it drops into a different melody, a delicate refrain that then builds once more.
Bringing producer Erol Alkan has added to the depth of sound, while surfacing those greater range of influences as electro-beats and precision rhythm move the Ride sound forward. This is very much an album in the traditional sense, a dying medium in its pure form, with Alkan conjuring a flow from the songs and bringing in emotional rises and falls beyond the tracks themselves. There is light and shade, there is movement in this music.
They may not be the only shoegaze band making a comeback, and with a new generation influenced by their classic sound too they are far from the only band now making this sort of music. This album isn’t as groundbreaking as their debut but nevertheless with Weather Diaries Ride has returned on a high, adding more colour and drawing on wider influences while still being very recognisably them. A sound collection from a band who are creatively inspired once more with something for old and new fans alike.