At this point, there are few bands whose reunions would completely shock me. We’re currently living in the golden age of bands getting back together, where past and present collide with clockwork regularity. Nevertheless, one of the more welcome reunions of the past few years has been Ride, who first did a couple tour laps playing old material before deciding to take the next bold step: the reunion album.
I can still remember the first time I heard Ride nearly 30 years ago. The song was “Like a Daydream,” and it sent shivers down my spine. It embodied everything that is good in rock & roll: a pop hook, a killer riff, and a rush of sonic overdrive that renders drugs almost completely unnecessary. The rest, as they say, is history, with the band going on to create their masterpiece, Nowhere, and several more records before hanging it up.
Weather Diaries (Wichita Recordings), Ride’s first new album since their 1996 swan song, Tarantula, does more than pick up where the band left off, it sounds like the next logical step, the album the band would have made had they not called it a day. Opening track “Lannoy Point” features the shimmering guitars and hazy vocal harmonies that were hallmarks of the band’s sound, but with electronic accents that fade in and out of earshot. It’s an especially strong starting point and sets the tone for an album that more than lives up to the band’s legacy.
Speaking of legacy, what’s curious is how some tracks recall younger bands that Ride no doubt influenced. “Rocket Silver Symphony,” with its buoyant pop splendor, is reminiscent of the Beta Band, while “Lateral Alice” hearkens to the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. But of course it is simply Ride reflected through another prism, and the album reminds us that there was so much more to the band than simply shoegazing. “Cali” is a sundazed swirl of pysch-tinged acoustic pop, while “Integration Tape” finds them creating their own music for airports. Eventually, the record finishes as strong as it began, with “White Sands” building at a slow pace from a piano-led revery into a sonic maelstrom of guitars. It makes it definitively clear that Ride is no mere nostalgia act but a musical entity every bit as vibrant as the day it was born.