By Jason Herring, June 21 2017 —
Ride are the latest in a string of ‘90s shoegaze pioneers to release a 21st century reunion album. Weather Diaries is the British band’s latest effort and their first album since 1996. It flirts with both the future and the past, but rarely attains the moments of catharsis that underlined Ride’s best music.
Shoegaze is the subgenre of indie rock characterized by droning instrumentals, effect-laden guitars and blistering volume. The name comes from the stance most shoegaze musicians take while performing — staring down at the array of guitar pedals strewn about the floor. Though there are bands that still play the genre, mainstream shoegaze lived and died before the turn of the century.
To their credit, Ride experiment with a lot of new ideas on Weather Diaries. A simple but unrelenting drum beat propels album opener “Lannoy Point” to a satisfying climax. “Integration Tapes” layers tremolo guitars to craft a subdued interlude while “Impermanence” succeeds as the closest thing to a ballad on the album.
Unfortunately, some of these new ideas flop — most notably, the band’s insistence on adding electronic elements to their music. “All I Want” would be a highlight without the spliced vocal sample that opens the song and permeates its verses. It’s an ever-present distraction on a track that otherwise features the best melodies on the album. And closing track “White Sand” transforms from a semi-conventional ballad to a jazzy send-off, neither of which work.
Weather Diaries is baffling because it has all the building blocks for a good shoegaze album but can’t assemble them. Unlike Ride’s previous work, the dense walls of sound that should be the emotional climax of each track are missing that spark that gives you goosebumps and makes you stop whatever you’re doing. Aside from a few triumphant moments, Ride’s reunion is a hollow reminder of how good they once were.