Ride - Nowhere
The term shoegazer is synonymous with My Bloody Valentine, and even more specifically with the album Isn’t Anything
and their powerful follow-up Loveless
. If one had to name the next thing that comes to mind when hearing the word shoegazer it would probably be Slowdive’s Souvlaki
. The albums Loveless
are usually considered the two-headed monster within the genre. There is, however, a third album, released a full year before Loveless
and 3 years before Souvlaki
, that arguably holds a claim to the first truly great shoegazer album. Imagine a less abrasive and more laid back Loveless
, and you have Ride’s Nowhere
The album begins with “Seagull", using a distorted guitar and funky bass line that is suddenly met by a wall of swirling guitars. British vocals come in after a little while singing soft and dreamy. The song is driving and reaches an incredible and loud climax about 3 minutes in as there is a powerful guitar solo. This is one of the better and more dynamic songs on the album, and is 6 minutes of bliss. “Kaleidoscope" begins with a delightful fast paced distorted guitar which is joined by frantic drumming. The vocals have a really interesting pacing to them as well. This is a very solid song.
“In a Different Place" begins with a gorgeous guitar part and a simple drum beat. The part is played repeatedly for the first minute or so until the crooning vocals come in to dominate the song and the guitar part is pushed to the background for the moment. This song is a break from the harder and more distorted stuff of the first two songs. This is a real radio friendly song and a good one to start the first time Ride listener with. It has been among my favorite songs for a while. It leads into “Polar Bear" which has a trembling distorted guitar that takes the listener into a dream land. The British vocals come in and are pretty nice, but the real gem in this song is the guitar parts. All in all it is another beauty.
“Dreams Burn Down" keeps the string of beautiful crooning vocals juxtaposed with heavily distorted guitar going. Drums pace the song, but a wall of sound created by the guitars swirls the song along nicely. Forgive me for using the words swirl, dreamy, distorted, wall of sound, etc, but that is what the album is all about. Anyway, back to the song, there are several enormous climaxes in the song where the vocals cut out and the guitars just go nuts and it is amazing stuff, but for the most part they are just pretty guitar pieces. This is a really great song which rotates among my favorite on the album. “Decay" is one of the low points on the album. It gets the distorted guitar part down, but the guitars aren’t catchy and the vocals aren’t as good as other songs on the album.
“Paralysed" gets back to the long beautiful guitar intros, and does it with much success. By the time the vocals come about a minute in, the song has me captivated. The vocals really work well along side the pretty guitar and the result is a nice song leading up to the song the band is known for. “Vapour Trail" was the first Ride song I heard and it was so great that I ended up buying the album immediately after. This is sort of a love song. “First you look so strong. Then you fade away. The sun will blind my eyes. I’ll love you anyway." The vocals are so damn amazing and the dreaminess of the instruments transports me to another world. This is another obvious highlight on the album and is the song that is sure to get you hooked on Ride.
The song directly after “Vapour Trail", “Taste" has no shot to keep up the beauty, so instead it returns to the driving style song from the beginning of the album and a long intro. A minute in the vocals come in. They are pretty nice. This is one of the shorter songs with just a couple verses and choruses and then it is over, but it is a pretty solid feel good song. “Here and Now" begins with echoed guitars and what sounds like a distant accordion accompanied by some simple drumming. The songs vocals enter in a minor key, and the song continues on with bright instrumentation and darker sounding vocals. They mesh rather well, creating another wonderful song. “Nowhere" starts off extremely strange with some buzzing noises and swirling distortion. This is one of the more experimental songs on the album almost with a spacey dreamlike and sad country style song all blended into one. This isn’t the greatest of album closers, but it sure does push the boundaries of what music can be and lays the final touches on an album that has cemented itself as one of the top albums in the genre.
This is an album for fans of My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive and other shoegazer in general. This isn’t an album for everyone, although there are several songs that everyone can enjoy. It is an album that I listen to frequently and has grown into one of my favorites and perhaps the first truly great shoegazer album.