Against a background of comebacks from scene contemporaries Lush and Slowdive, Ride‘s – well-received – return to the stage after two decades away was eventually followed by welcome news of this album, a no-nonsense affair quickly completed under the gaze of remixer and DJ Erol Alkan and production heavyweight Alan Moulder. The results confirm rather than diminish any memories one may have had of the Oxford quartet, with the eleven tracks leading to hopes this will prove to be a permanent move for the original line-up of Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Steve Queralt, and Loz Colbert.
Weather Diairies shines when the focus is on the brighter, pop-tinged colours of 1992’s Going Blank Again, only dropping the ball a little when they occasionally try to recapture their initial breakthrough sound. Much water has flowed under the shoegaze bridge since debut Nowhere and ‘Home Is A Feeling’ is corny and dangerously self-parodic, but the seven minute title track more successfully updates the template to something more nuanced, rather than falling back on overly familiar washes of effects.
The choppy rhythms of ‘Charm Assault’ give Colbert a chance to stretch his legs and the nod to Spacemen 3 in ‘Lateral Alice’ and electronic pulses of ‘Lannoy Point’ (a reference to a London landmark) will prove worthy additions to their live set. Alkan’s touch is obvious with the manipulated vocals of ‘All I Want’, perfectly blending their cocktail of trippy mood and more propulsive energies. While no-one ever looked to Ride for great lyrical insight, where once they were blank, here they are newly politicised, claiming “It’s not a pretty picture / This is 1932” and this undercurrent perhaps drives some of their re-found motivation.
They’re also experienced enough to know to mix things up: if Pete Townsend had contributed to Hair it might well have come out like ‘Rocket Silver Symphony’ and ‘Cali’ assuages any fears the album would run out of steam, managing to bolt a verse worthy of Teenage Fanclub to a swaggering, Lou Reed-like chorus and make it work. Closer ‘White Sands’ has the wan complexion of a Radiohead b-side but can’t completely derail what’s come before.
The success of Weather Diaries stems not from any sense of nostalgia; Ride sound modern and vibrant, an act with something still to give.