God Bless Ride. As one of the pre-eminent bands of the first wave of Shoegaze alongside the likes of Lush, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, we thought we’d lost them forever when the band initially broke up in 1996. Thankfully the wounds didn’t run too deeply and the band reformed in 2014, playing live shows and then in 2017 releasing what could arguably the best comeback album of any band with Weather Diaries. Critical acclaim was showered upon them again and extensive touring helped solidify the fact that they were back and better than ever. In 2018 a low key EP, Tomorrow’s Shore, and a special Record Store Day album of remixed Weather Diaries tracks entitled, Waking Up in Another Town, came and went with a yawn. Then news broke in March of this year that a new album was on the way. You could hear the collective inhale of breath being held. This is Not a Safe Place will be let loose to the world on August 16th and you can exhale with the satisfaction of knowing that it is a nothing short of brilliant.
It doesn’t start with a big, catchy, radio friendly single. Instead they choose an instrumental jam called ‘R.I.D.E.‘ to whet our palates. The radio friendly tune promptly follows the lead in track. If you have not heard ‘Future Love’ yet, do yourself a favour and immerse yourself immediately via the video attached to this review. Suffice it to say, this should be atop every “Single of the Year” list at the close of 2019. It’s melodious, infectious and memorable. Easily the best track the lads have ever recorded. And it only gets better from there. Well, with one slight hiccup. The latest single, ‘Repetition’ shows them trying to push into a dancier realm that they’d be best leaving to the experts. Moving on from there is a blissful 40-minute trek through more of what is destined to be considered the high watermark of their catalog. The wistful ‘Clouds of St. Marie’ with its almost stadium-rock, “Na-Na-Na, Na-Na-Na-Na“, which granted is no fun to read, but after hearing, it will have you chanting it whilst walking down the street. ‘Jump Jet‘ ranks as high as the previously mentioned ‘Future Love‘. The powerful guitar driven chorus and sing-song lyrics burn themselves into your psyche and make you feel rapturous. The song ‘End Game‘ would be right at home on the band’s classic 1992 album, Going Blank Again. The guitar effects, the hazy production and the harmonization between Andy Bell and Mark Gardener recall their decades past halcyon days. Acoustic guitar ballad ‘Shadows Behind the Sun‘ is sheer positive energy. It’s encouraging to hear someone sing, “This world breaks everybody now, at the broken places, be strong” in the climate of today’s political and social woes. Coming full circle, the album closes with an 8+minute epic, ‘In This Room‘ which is a slow burner that stops the pop hooks around the 3 and half minute mark to send us out with a smooth instrumental jam.
You will be hard pressed to not love this album. Ride have a tendency for a few clunkers per album but this really has none. Ok, one track that could have been left as a single b-side, and that is the only reason I cannot give this album a perfect score. It truly is nothing short of amazing for a band that began burning so brightly in the ’90s and fizzled out to return like a phoenix from the ashes and not only deliver an amazing comeback album but an even better follow up. Expect big things to come from the release of this album. It is brimming with songs that will make you karaoke in your car, feel inspired and plant many earworms that won’t leave your head for weeks.
This Is Not A Safe Place is out on August 16th through Wichita.