Ride – Weather Diaries
When Ride's fourth album, 1996's Tarantula, was deleted by Creation Records after just one week, it marked a sad end for a band who had once burnt so brightly. From 1990's wondrous debut Nowhere through to 1992's Going Blank Again, Ride seemed an unstoppable force. Armed with great tunes and cheekbones to match, they were arguably one of the UK indie scene's biggest bands, capable of landing Leave Them All Behind – an eight-minute-epic of feedback and drone – inside the top ten in an age when success for such a group usually meant a brief appearance on the Chart Show.
1994's Carnival of Light saw them dive headlong into Britpop armed with sitars, flares and a penchant for psychedelia but it heralded a desperate decline with songwriters Andy Bell and Mark Gardener falling out in spectacular fashion before Bell notched up underachieving stints in Hurricane #1 and Oasis. More than 20 years later Ride's reformation was ecstatically received by those who still clung dearly to those early glories and after a series of well-received live outings, Weather Diaries confirms Ride mark two are anything but a nostalgia-driven rehash.
Crucial to this new found focus is producer Erol Alkan who has added a pleasing modern sheen to Ride's sound, enhancing Steve Queralt's bass and inserting all sorts of electronic flourishes to a collection of tunes that are overflowing with melodies and pop nous. Lead single Charm Assault is a fine deceleration of intent with its piercing riff and propulsive dynamics about as far from Carnival of Light's slack 60s-isms as it's possible to get.
Throughout proceedings, Weather Diaries displays a confidence that's a joy for any fan who recalls their youthful verve. Cali's glorious jangle and epic closer White Sands are the closest they come to the classic Ride sound but what's noticeable is how willing Bell and Gardener are to let their songs breath and exist outside their trademark wall of guitar effects.
Integration Tape sees them extend their teenage shoegazing towards more ambient soundscapes while Lateral Alice recalls the garage rock of Tarantula's Black Nite Crash. There's a lyrical purpose to the album too which belies Ride's reputation for 'sky, high, why' laziness and although Weather Diaries is hardly There's a Riot Goin' On, there's a sense that here is an album being made by four angry men.
What is clear is that Ride's fifth album is something of a triumph and infinitely better than many a fan could have hoped for. Almost 30 years on those vapour trails show no sign of fading just yet.
Listen to: Cali, Lannoy Point