This has been a good year for shoegaze. Two legendary British shoegaze bands returned after long absences with great records. One of them is RIDE (Andy Bell, Loz Colbert, Mark Gardener, and Steve Queralt), whose newest record, The Weather Diaries, is a welcome return and a sharp piece of work.
Opener “Lannoy Point” has the layered, echoing guitars you love from RIDE and lyrics about being wiser with the passage of time. They’re ready to get a lot of stuff off their chests. You can’t help but think the hard-hitting “Charm Assault” is about certain politicians on both sides of the pond. Lyrics like “Your charm assault has scarred the world. It looks so ugly as your lies begin to unfurl.” and “Privilege abused at every turn. Serious as a heart attack, he’s standing. He sets fire to your world and lets it burn.” hit as hard as the drum beats.
“All I Want” was one of the first singles off the record, and the decision to make it so was a no-brainer. It blends shoegaze and electro very well (and those drum beats are jaw-dropping), and the lyrics cover familiar shoegaze ground – loneliness and the urge to improve one’s lot in life. “Home Is a Feeling” is lovely dream pop, and the title track could be about global warming, but I think it’s about being overwhelmed by media (“When I was younger, it was simple. You didn’t have to question everything.”) – and the guitars build to a static-like roar by the end.
The name of “Rocket Silver Symphony” pretty much sums up the way the song sounds. It’s electric, bold, bright, and bursting with energy. “Lateral Alice,” a song taken from some of Andy Bell’s dreams, is a kick-ass rocker. “Cali” is Bell’s love letter to surf, sand, and sun in the U.S. The guitars in it are as wonderful as you hope they’ll be in such a song, and the vocals get ahold of your mind and won’t let go. You’ll want this on every summer playlist you make now.
“Impermanence” is a beautiful song about the end of things – life, relationships, even random physical objects like windowpanes. Bell tries to cope with the end of a relationship (while guitars soar all around his vocals) by meditating on the impermanence of all things, but it doesn’t help him much. “White Sands” (another song referencing beaches) muses on illusions we create and our struggles to let go of them. It’s hypnotizing in many ways, as is most of the record.
Good shoegaze always hypnotizes you. It causes you to get lost in dreamscapes and to notice the moment around you. It’s nice to have these musical Zen masters back among us.
Thanks to RIDE for being groovy cats when I met them at Pitchfork Music Festival earlier this year.
Keep your mind open.
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