Review Summary: Simple, yet complex. Ride's 1990 full length debut crosses many bounderies to be one of the most underrated albums of their time.
Upon been given the assignment to review Ride's album "Nowhere,” I had never heard of the band in my entire musical listening career. My first instinct told me to turn to the most reliable source of information I know, Wikipedia. From there I realized that Ride, particularly this album, was one of the best albums of the Shoegaze genre, next to My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless.” Pondering myself, I decided to educate myself on what the genre "Shoegaze" meant. Basically the roots of Shoegaze came from alternative bands who play their instruments as they stare at the ground, hence the gazing at their shoes. Overall it sounds like some bull *** NME or Rolling Stone could have come up with (ala labeling Fall Out Boy as emo).
Well Ride formed back in 1988 in Oxford, England and broke up in 1996 after tension within the band got the best of them when they didn't garner the success they felt was deserved. "Nowhere" was the first full length record from Ride in 1990. It gathered a strong following and critical success in the United Kingdom. Ride's sound focused more on the ambiance atmosphere, using guitar effects to give listeners a full experience, rather than just a listen. Each instrument is carefully crafted, so when gathered, creates an energy which sounds like it was recorded in a large arena. Andy Bell and Mark Gardener's duel guitar abilities combine for an echoing and sometimes chilling effect. Gardeners’ vocals combined with Bell's background pipes seals the trippy mood that the album sets place. Bassist Stephan Queralt and drummer Loz Colbert each makes their presence felt throughout, as this record would not have been possible without them.
The album begins with obviously the noisiest track on the album, Seagull. Honestly this has to be the best opening tracks I've heard, ever. Using feedback as an instrument on its own, the song carries away with a highly infectious bass line and amazing drum fills. The song builds tension until the final minute, where everything is unleashed in a fit of rage. Makes for a powerful opener, yet would make an even more powerful closer.
Sure it's not the only noisy song to appear, Dreams Burn Down and Decay both add emotional tension that can be almost chilling. The angst builds so tendetivly, that it demands the listeners interest. The balance between clean strumming and distortion are well balanced and the use of guitar effects, such as the use of a wah pedal, blends for a dynamic sound. The low-fi production value literally adds to the eerie and wistful mood that is presented. The lyric's isn't really anything memorable, mostly with the "me against the world" lyrical style. A good thing that the lyrics aren't as important, since the music speaks for itself. As there are tracks that keep a calming mood, like Polar Bear, Kaleidoscope, and a fan favorite Vapour Trail. These songs represent an echoing clean strumming stylistic approach for crafting their songs. My personal favorite on here is In a Different Place. Opening up with a simple drum pattern and larger than life guitar melodies, the song is near-perfect to contract vibes to sooth the listeners’ nerves. The vocal styles of both Bell and Gardener are the typical British accents, but they blend within the music in a nice way.
It really is such a shame that Ride hasn't garnered the success they deserved. The album is easily accessible to a wide audience and any song off here has the potential to be played on any alternative rock stations flashback time slots. The music is crafted and presented in such a way, where nearly any music fan should enjoy. Duel guitars’ work well on both clean strumming and distortion for positive results. The bass guitar is well represented and heard throughout. As well as drumming that is almost too good for it's own good. I'm so glad I was picked to review Ride's "Nowhere,” because without being assigned to it, I would have never even given this beautiful work of art a chance. Do yourself a favor and give it a spin, you won't be sorry.
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In a Different Place