Ride’s reunion benefited a great deal from some revision of the band’s legacy and how they were remembered, specifically the seemingly universal decision by writers and fans to elevate Nowhere as a sacred text of shoegaze that overshadowed everything else the band did afterwards. The truth is that Nowhere was only one part of a larger story, one that saw Ride move successfully on from shoegaze to a revamped, modern take on psychedelia in Going Blank Again. Granted, they almost immediately became Britpop chancers and ground to a sad halt before they split, but that step remains a crucial one. And it’s a step that is often either overlooked or misinterpreted. But it wasn’t lost on Ride themselves, as Weather Diaries makes quite clear. Fans expecting a triumphant return to form may find themselves disappointed with Weather Diaries, but that’s largely because Ride aren’t looking backwards here. Instead, they’re picking up where they left off.

Arguably, Ride isn’t quite sure about what version of Ride its members likely want to be on Weather Diaries. The first single from the album, “Charm Assault,” was a decidedly punchy rocker that seemed nothing like the soaring, atmospheric stuff that Ride were best known for. Then, there’s “All I Want,” a dizzying spin on neo-psychedelia with allusions to the chaos of Brexit. Further on, we get the absolutely stunning title track, which is about as close to a paean to fans of Nowhere as Ride seem willing to go. None of these songs should fit together on an album–and one could argue that they really don’t fit together on this album–but here they are, and the result is a somewhat disjointed record all around.

Having said that, Weather Diaries largely works on the strength of its songs. While they largely indulge in a mix of shoegaze, psychedelia and electronics throughout, they wisely avoid the dinosaur-rock posturing that ended up killing their careers the first time around. The songs on Weather Diaries are assertive and contain the band’s live power without resorting to arena rock cliche. When they head down a more straightforward rock path on “Cali,” it feels light, effortless and…well, fun. Despite the heavy subject matter of some of the lyrics (there are three songs that explicitly refer to Brexit, something that Andy Bell said was borne out of the ever-present ramifications of the vote in the UK), the album feels invigorating in its effortless charm. Weather Diaries crucially feels like an album that Ride wanted to make, rather than one they were obligated to make, and that seems to make all the difference.

Given that shoegaze aficionados were relatively spoiled by the high quality of reunion albums by My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, it’s inevitable that Weather Diaries would come across as a failure. And to be fair, the album is not a classic on the level of Nowhere or Going Blank Again. However, the album paints Ride’s reunion as a lively affair, and the hits far outweigh the misses here. Perhaps another classic will come in the next few years, but, for now, it’s good to have the Oxford foursome back and refusing to rest on their considerable laurels.

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