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Ride - Weather Diaries (Album Review)

Thursday, 22 June 2017 Written by Graeme Marsh

With various band members declaring on umpteen occasions that a reconciliation was unlikely, it came as a thrilling surprise when Oxford shoegaze forerunners Ride announced they’d done just that in late 2014.

After subsequent live performances that displayed a reawakened exuberance – particularly in singer Mark Gardener - came news that this reunion would comprise new material and a chance to rewrite the ending left by the short-lived (it was deleted by their label after a week) and forgettable ‘Tarantula’ in 1996. But is ‘Weather Diaries’ another classic-in-waiting like ‘Nowhere’ and ‘Going Blank Again’, or is it another dud like Ride’s parting gift?

Those attending any of the fantastic live shows Ride played after reforming would have excitedly clocked a couple of impressive new songs. Album opener Lannoy Point hinted at an electrifying reinvigoration of the band, built around Andy Bell’s instantly memorable guitar hook.

Lead single Charm Assault was another to feature live and enjoys itself with another hypnotic guitar line, coming across like a track from Johnny Marr’s debut solo LP ‘The Messenger’. Key to the success of both tracks here, though, is the pristine production courtesy of Erol Alkan and a sense of vibrancy that’s almost tangible.

The anti-Theresa May All I Want, another single release, is driven by stunning work courtesy of drummer Loz Colbert and its thunderous chorus is perhaps the album’s finest moment. Although, it has to be said that the way it stutters to its conclusion leaves a ‘work-in-progress’ demo aftertaste, much as Lannoy Point falters and loses momentum with a late gasp for breath.

Home Is A Feeling is one of few nods to the band’s most recognised guise and sees a dreamy, surreal soundscape float in like more consistent shoegazers Engineers, while the sorrowful, reflective title track hints at Ride’s debut with personal lyrics like “you never know what someone’s thinking until they’re just about to go”. Sadly, many of us can relate.

The rest of the album is a rapid tour through different styles. After two minutes of ambience, Rocket Silver Symphony explodes with a roaring chorus, while the brilliant power-pop of Cali mesmerises with repetitive, chiming verses and belting bass from Steve Queralt, even if its hook fails to take hold. Impermanence is another sad break-up song and closer White Sands marks a new direction for the band with its middling jazzy construction.

As a whole, ‘Weather Diaries’ covers a lot of ground and as such cannot challenge the shoegaze squalor of ‘Nowhere’, or the jangly dream-pop magnificence of its follow-up. It’s simply too eclectic and unfocused in comparison. But in a wider context, it’s way ahead of ‘Carnival of Light’ and the eight-legged fiend that closed Ride’s first chapter. Aside from Slowdive’s stunning self-titled return earlier this year, it’s maybe the best, and most welcome, reunion album you are likely to hear in 2017.

Ride Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon July 10 2017 - OXFORD New Theatre Oxford
Tue July 11 2017 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Tue November 07 2017 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town
Wed November 08 2017 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Thu November 09 2017 - BRISTOL SWX
Fri November 10 2017 - LEEDS Leeds Beckett Students Union
Sun November 12 2017 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
Mon November 13 2017 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop
Tue November 14 2017 - EDINBURGH Queens Hall

Click here to compare & buy Ride Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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