Ride were major pioneers in the shoe-gazing scene with their own special band of psychedelic music that also involved powerful rock and pop elements. This was the band’s first full-length album, which put the band’s style on the map and influenced many to come. They followed it up with the equally amazing Going Black again two years later. The albums that followed from there, Carnival of Light and Tarantula didn’t quite match the power (or popularity) of their first two albums and the band called it a day after album # 4. Nevertheless, two decades have passed and the band’s music still stands up. It is as strong now as it was back then, with more and more people out there still discovering their music, and a very worthwhile discover that is!
The album opens at a furious pace with the highly energetic Seagull and Kaleidoscope. Both of which feature both Andy Bell and Mark Gardener singing together. These song sets the shoe-gazing atmosphere brilliantly while also exercising a lot of energy helped by Loz Colbert’s fast paced drumming.
The pace of the album quickly drops with the astoundingly beautiful A Different Place. Here the instruments are played much slower.
Dreams Burn Down is a breath taking piece of musical genius that is having a major impact on emerging Brit-Pop bands. When listening to bands such as Coldplay, you can hear elements of this song being used. The song has a slow paced vibe with a droning guitar outburst as a substitute for a chorus. The result is a song that surrounds you and takes over.
Decay is a fast rocking track, it shows some punk elements but there’s a lot more life to the sound than what you’d hear from your standard punk group. Paralysed is the most dark and gloomy song on the album, towards the end there is a powerful guitar duet between Andy and Mark as they each pour as much emotion as they possibly can into their slow slightly distorting guitars.
Next comes Vapour Trail, the song that really broke the band into the global audience. It is a sweet catchy pop tune that has something extra to it, to make it feel like something incredibly special. A decade and a half has now passed and the song still has that vibe. The US version of the album also featured the tracks Taste, Here and Now and Nowhere all of which originally appeared on Ride’s Fall EP. Taste is a fast paced catchy pop- rock tune. Here and Now is a solid track with some superb harmonica work. Nowhere is a dark spacey epic that is full of eerie distortion, ending with the words “All that’s left is you and me, and here we are, nowhere!”
You simply cannot understate the musicianship that is displayed here. All four members work in unison but at the same time you can hear each member’s contribution. Mark Gardener and Andy Bell work well together to produce the hazy distorted guitar sound, Steve Quarant’s bass playing holds the distortion sounds together while Loz Colbert’s powerful drumming dictates the pace at which the music will play.
This is an amazing album that effectively has everything it needs to have in it. There is the catchy pop tune in Taste, the sweet love tunes such as A Different Place and Vapour Trail, the fast paced rock song in Decay, the powerful energetic shoe-gazing tunes such as Seagull and the distorted experimental epic in Nowhere. Furthermore every track on this album stands up as an outstanding musical masterpiece! If you like the music from bands such as Coldplay, the Doves or even Radiohead, then you would be doing yourself a massive disservice not to check out this album from which undoubtable many of the later bands were heavily influenced.
Often ignored in favor of My Bloody Valentine, Ride were second only to them in the shoegaze sweepstakes. What separated them from their peers in the genre is that they took as much influence from the Madchester scene as they did noise pop. Their use of noise and effects was secondary to the songs themselves, making them more accessible to a mainstream audience. As such, their sound had a big influence on the burgeoning Britpop movement. (In fact, following the band's 1996 breakup, guitarist Andy Bell joined Oasis.)
Many of the album's songs drift by at a slow pace, allowing the listener to take in all that they are hearing. On tracks like "In a Different Place" and "Dreams Burn Down" (originally on the 'Fall' EP), the band alternate Cure-like guitar chimes with blasts of feedback. "Polar Bear" uses its slow tempo and use of tremelo to give it a continuously rising feel, while "Paralysed" is a sadder-sounding affair. Songs like the epic opener "Seagull", the purely pop "Kaleidoscope", and the intense "Decay" speed up the proceedings. The album closes with "Vapour Trail", Ride's best song and one of the best of the decade, featuring an undeniable guitar hook, simple but pretty lyrics, and a closing string solo. This edition of 'Nowhere' is appendaged with two EPs from the some era, 'Fall' and 'Today Forever'. Both match 'Nowhere''s high quality standard. 'Fall' includes another of the band's best pop gems, "Taste", the harmonica-ladden "Here and Now", and the song "Nowhere" itself. 'Today Forever' features "Unfamiliar", one of Ride's best straight ahead rockers, the gentler "Sennen", "Beneath", which is like a cross between the previous two songs musically, and "Today", a beautiful, epic song that features but one chord. (Considering that 'Nowhere' and the two EPs attached are pretty much Ride's best releases, this CD could practically be considered a "best-of"!)
While not as noisy or obscure as many of their kinsmen, during their zenith, Ride created some of the best music the shoegaze genre has to offer. 'Nowhere' is a great album for fans of noise pop, shoegaze, and perhaps even Britpop, as well.