Published Aug 15, 2019With the re-emergence of interest in shoegaze in recent years, it comes as no surprise that one of the genre's cornerstone bands, Ride, continue to throw their hat into the ring with a new LP, This Is Not a Safe Place.
Following the successful reunions of the other "Big 3" shoegaze bands, including fellow Thames Valley contemporaries Slowdive, Ride continue to elegantly carve out their post-reunion success, following 2017's Weather Diaries. It's risky when a band continue after years of inactivity; what was so often flash-in-the-pan youthful genius so often fails to translate in the contemporary. Yet, Ride's latest effort is neither wholly successful, nor a second-rate album.
It's clear from the beginning that Ride are aiming to fit comfortably next to their dream pop contemporaries. After fairly redundant instrumental "R.I.D.E.," which introduces the project through the use of distorted loops, the LP kicks into shape with the indie rock-inflected single "Future Love." With its catchy melody and jangly lead guitars, it's by no means revolutionary, but fits in well with modern Ride-inspired bands like Beach House or the Bilinda Butchers.
Nostalgia for the band's earlier work is also catered to successfully here. "Clouds of Saint Marie" recalls the ethereal atmosphere of "Today," from the 1991 Today Forever EP. Building to a compelling climax, the new song echoes the youthfulness of Ride's '90s work without feeling dated. They're also not afraid of stripping back their songs; "Dial Up" is a sincere acoustic ballad, the pitch-shifted clean guitar the only emblem of the band's typical genre tag.
Ride have clearly tried to show their progression, but with some mixed results. "Jump Jet" is a criminally overwrought song about technology that decries software's self-awareness, as if we haven't heard this message before. Moreover, the heavy distortion on "Kill Switch" seems like an attempt at noise-rock without a note of tension.
This Is Not a Safe Place is a fine album with some songs that, with time, could become Ride staples. However, there are times where the band crumble under the pressure of bringing both a progression in sound, as well as a catering to their older audiences. (Wichita)