Weather Diaries by RideRelease date: June 16, 2017
Label: Wichita Recordings
Twenty-five years ago, Ride stood with the world at their feet. Their thrill of a debut, Nowhere, had propelled them into the spotlight and its successor, the mighty Going Blank Again, was on the verge of making them genuine global stars. And then they took the wrong path. The band’s dual songwriters, Mark Gardener and Andy Bell, headed into an epic falling-out, a spat so vicious that by the time third album Carnival Of Light saw the light of day two years later, they had split the recording in two, with Gardener’s songs taking side A and Bell’s side B. Unsurprisingly, the result was unsatisfying to say the least.
It was the sort of never-the-twain scenario that could only end in disaster and sure enough, during the recording of their equally patchy fourth offering, Tarantula, Gardener walked out and the whole sorry mess disintegrated.
What followed is well documented – Bell set sail on the seas of rock, first with Hurricane No 1 and then as an ‘axe for hire’ with the latter-day Oasis, and Gardener briefly turned his back on music before returning with occasional solo works and guest appearances.
It seemed the hope of seeing the band’s full potential, that fire that burnt in ‘Polar Bear’ and that power that roared through ‘Leave Them All Behind’, realised were dead and gone. Until there was a glimmer of hope, that is, with a one-off involvement in a 2001 Channel 4 documentary that allowed hatchets to be buried and future releases considered.
Roll forward 13 years and the lure of headline slots at the likes of Coachella and Primavera proved too tempting. Visceral sets followed, filled with the sort of bonhomie that they had shown in those heady early days, and a full return was on the cards. Weather Diaries more than fulfils the hopes of those who saw those superb comeback shows. It is a treasure box of an album which finds Gardener and Bell – and drummer Loz Colbert and bass player Steve Queralt – on fine and freewheeling songwriting form.
Some of the credit must also go to producer Erol Alkan, who has helped tease out extra bounce and verve and found a superb middle way between Gardener’s dancefloor desires and Bell’s retro rock tendencies. Case in point is ‘All I Want’, a track so un-Ride-like that you would be forgiven for not crediting it to them on first listen. It pounds along at a rapid rate, percussively jittering under layers of gliding, exploding guitar and soaring tight vocals over its glorious crescendos.
Elsewhere, the title track is a mature companion to Nowhere’s ‘Vapour Trail’, building to thundering discordance; the tight verses of ‘Rocket Silver Symphony’ burst into firework choruses that beg to be turned up; ‘Impermanence’ manages to be both expansively epic and beautifully understated; ‘Lannoy Point’ has a New Order-esque dancefloor rock air-punching, lung-bursting urgency; the aptly named ‘Home Is A Feeling’ is classic Ride, all textural dual vocals bobbing on a sea of sound; sunshine and surf pour out of the sparky smile of ‘Cali’; and there is even room for a true rock and roller in the shape of ‘Lateral Alice’.
Weather Diaries is Ride’s redemption writ large. Vibrant, intoxicating and fun, it is the album which should have followed Going Blank Again and sounds like a band at peace with themselves and reveling in their resurrection.