Ride - Weather Diaries

by Taylor-William Hill

Weather Diaries is a shocking album. Not shocking in the sense that it’s a monstrously bad record and a taint to the band’s impressive discography. But rather, Weather Diaries is quite the contrary. It genuinely shocked me with how much it merits commendable praise. Why is this, you ask? Well, as I’ve stated in my earlier albums reviews for The Jesus and Marychain and Slowdive, this year has been the comeback year for three of the bands that epitomise what the genre of music ‘Shoegaze’ stands for. The first release, Damage and Joy was a moderate success, while Slowdive LP was breathtakingly stunning. Out of these three records, it was Ride’s I was the least optimistic about and has ultimately impressed me the most.

The album opens with Lannoy Point, my favourite track from it (I’ve always had a thing for opening songs). Typically of a makeshift Shoegaze song, it opens with an ambient droney sound while gradually introducing the clean-sounding guitar with the drums and vocals coming later. What Lannoy Point does to differ, however, is it adds this mechanicalized (albeit, Japan anf Radiohead-esque sounding) synth which very faintly proceeds to play throughout moments of the song and makes returns throughout different tracks on the album. Upon first impressions, I thought the guitar tone and the vocals sounded a lot like music from the band JAWS, and then the vocals got a lot huskier and started to resemble the band Howler, but still with JAWS’ musical tone. What I’m trying to elucidate here is: although Ride haven’t released an album in 21 years, they’ve sounded as though they’ve mixed in with the younger indie bands of today to produce music which is more accessible to new audiences.

My next comparison with another artist for this album is Johnny Marr’s solo stuff. By comparing them, I need to tread lightly as Marr is one of my favourite guitarists of all time. For example, the album’s second track Charm Assault opens with a variation of a power chord progression with harmonised vocals over the drop of a pounding drum beat. Although that’s not very Marr(y), the song takes a sudden - albeit a clean sounding transition - to a guitar riff which sounds like it’s been ripped straight out of Marr’s album The Messenger. The third track opens with a Japan-inspired vocal loop which recites the song’s title (All I Want) and throws the words around in an arbitrary but still musically articulate way. I’m really into songs that use this kind of experimentation, but for this song, in particular, it’s the core melody and lyrics that do it for me.

The next four songs carry the album for me, and it eventually dies down. It’s disappointing that the album lights a fuse from the off, but ultimately it dies off before exploding. Still, seven on-par songs from an 11 track LP is impressive, especially after a 20-year hiatus. Weather Diaries doesn’t allow itself to be identified as a straight Shoegaze album and experiments with rock and synth to digress from their rivals Slowdive. Although songs such as Home Is A Feeling can sound like they’ve been ripped from the band’s former glory, juxtaposing it with a song such as Lateral Alice shows the variety of expressionism the band have chosen to undertake for this comeback.

I haven’t listened to this album too many times yet, but from what I’ve read from other reviewers, it becomes even more magnificent with each round. Although Nowhere will always be my Ride album of choice, Weather Diaries is a close second.