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Ride - This Is Not A Safe Place (Album Review)

Friday, 23 August 2019 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Kalpesh Lathigra

With an abundance of new songs amassed during Ride’s extensive ‘Weather Diaries’ tour, there was never really any question of the Oxford quartet’s reappearance after 21 years being limited to just one comeback album. 

Following up one of 2017’s most unlikely releases, ‘This is Not a Safe Place’ is the band’s sixth studio collection, but it distinctly feels like a standalone follow up to ‘Weather Diaries’. According to Mark Gardener, it’s an album that deals with “betrayal, anxiety, sadness and melancholy”. 

It’s only the lead single Future Love, which was written as “light relief” from the LP’s heavier themes, that goes against this template. Featuring jangly guitars and a summery riff, it’s a catchy effort given added gloss by trademark Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies.

Ride have arguably been at their best when things come together from all corners of the band. While much of this album began life as Andy Bell demos or Steve Queralt backing tracks, the outstanding highlight Jump Jet was a “truly collaborative effort”, and it shows.

Bell chips in with a mesmerising guitar riff—the best on the collection and one akin to his Hurricane #1 days—and Gardener provides vocal melodies that excel thanks to a formula seldom utilised on the rest of the journey.

The reflective, slow-building End Game is another highlight, as is the sweet, swooning love song Clouds of Saint Marie, which recalls the band’s old dream pop ways. The slower, brooding Eternal Recurrence benefits from a sweeping instrumental passage as Queralt flexes his creative muscles, while opener R.I.D.E. is an experimental number that would be better utilised as a pre-gig warm-up track—the sort that belts out over the sound system before the band actually take the stage.

Gardener’s exquisite Shadows Behind The Sun is another winner in all its shimmering glory, but it feels too short. Conversely, closing epic In This Room—where the album title gets a namecheck—has the potential to soar anthemically but peters out as things become over elongated.

Experimentation is a good thing and, as Gardener explains on the infectious Repetition, “they want you to just repeat and stay the same”. Fans and critics alike are often happy to see a band sitting in a certain pigeonhole, and they don’t want them to move outside its confines. 

It doesn’t always work, however, as the short blast of Kill Switch and the warped twang of the Sonic Youth-influenced 15 Minutes and Dial Up prove. Despite largely existing in the vapour trail of their own back catalogue, ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’ shows that Ride are at least trying new things, and that in itself should bring more excitement—and longevity to the reunion—than we could have possibly hoped for.

Ride Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri November 29 2019 - NORWICH Waterfront
Sat November 30 2019 - SHEFFIELD Foundry, Sheffield
Sun December 01 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Tue December 03 2019 - OXFORD Oxford Town Hall
Wed December 04 2019 - GLASGOW SWG3 Galvanizers
Thu December 05 2019 - ABERDEEN Lemon Tree
Fri December 06 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop
Sun December 08 2019 - SOUTHAMPTON Southampton Engine Rooms
Mon December 09 2019 - LONDON Barbican Hall
Wed December 11 2019 - LEEDS Leeds Beckett Student Union
Thu December 12 2019 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz

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

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