By Ezlyh Gutierrez
Album: Charm Assault/Home is a Feeling
Release Date: June 16, 2017
After reuniting in late 2014 to collect a long overdue spot headlining Coachella, shoegaze titans Ride have officially released new music for the first time in over 20 years. The group’s last studio effort before breaking up in 1996, Tarantula, was a middling effort at straight Britpop and suffered primarily as the product of a band at the peak of their renown having to come up with an album’s worth material when they simply wanted to call it quits. (and also because they released the best Tarantula songs as b-sides. But that’s just my opinion.). With this new pair of songs, Ride has seemingly corrected their problems with overlength, releasing their strongest songs upfront, and making cohesive, collaborative music together. And while “Chelsea Girl” this ain’t, Ride’s new music is a definite return to form pre-1996. Though what’s most important about “Charm Assault”, and “Home is a Feeling” in particular, is that primary songwriters Andy Bell and Mark Gardner have steered the band off the reunion-festival-cash grab circuit and careened back into the orbit of luscious guitar lines, hazy vocal harmonies, and fuzzy, earth-rending bass that brought them to wide attention in the mid 90’s once more.
Ride has never been held in high accord for their lyrics, and the first track released, “Charm Assault”, won’t buck that trend. However they are due credit for that title; the phrase “charm assault” is a perfectly apt description of the feeling the concept such a reunion among in the pedal-gazing faithful. It’s a speedy number that seems to make up for the time lost between not just their last album, but the reunion proper and new music. The song made its debut at a London gig in September last year, but the studio version builds its fervor more quickly and maintains itself longer. It begins with a series of forceful kicks from drummer Loz Colbert and the distinctive “ah”s that Bell and Gardner should rightly own as intellectual property by now, and signifies that the new Ride is a different beast entirely from Gardner’s recent-ish solo albums, but it borrows the best of Bell’s underrated contributions to the late Oasis supergroup/ spinoff Beady Eye (R.I.P.). “Charm Assault” shows considerable improvement from the live version, a willingness to progress from their heyday and demonstrates Ride’s recommitment to its music. It thusly stands as a promising lead single.
All that said, “Home is a Feeling” is the standout of the two. Dave Sitek of T.V. On The Radio produced the second Beady Eye album and his residual influence on Bell appears here. The same dreamy, honeyed layers that Sitek filled out the Bell-penned “Soon Come Tomorrow” with act on “Home is a Feeling” as an opulent echoplex for Bell’s lead guitar and background vocals to drift through, as bassist Steve Queralt’s notes send ripples through them. On the whole the song exemplifies a particular Tolkien quote strewn across many an abandoned day planner: “Not all those who wander are lost”. Ride may not have been a functioning musical entity until three years, but “Home is a Feeling” illustrates that their drive never truly ambled. With this, their second new song in as many decades, Ride has returned home into a feeling in just under three and a half minutes.