Making their second full length since they reformed in 2016 might’ve given Ride slightly more pause for thought than with its predecessor, 2017’s ‘Weather Diaries’. It is after all more or less three decades on from the recording sessions that became their debut album ‘Nowhere’, and the cover of ‘This Is Not …’ and its image of a hand stretching across a darkened seascape harks back to the artwork of their first album. The music also references Ride’s earliest moments and to a greater extent than ‘Weather Diaries’. That it’s done with little nostalgia and a lot of foot pedal flattening virulence says much about the continuing relevance of these Shoegaze originators.
It isn’t that they’ve somehow still got it to prove alongside their more readily quoted contemporaries Slowdive and MBV. They very obviously don’t although there’s a feel of reconfiguring former glories about ‘This Is Not …’ that’s once again empowering the band that brought us ‘Vapour Trail’ and ‘Dreams Burn Down’, as well as the cheerful psyche pop of 1994’s ‘Carnival Of Light’ full length. Thirty years on from ‘Nowhere’, Ride can look back and say, how would we do that today? That’s what ‘This Is Not …’ really seems like, a more focused, adventurous take on their band sound of the early 90s.
Opener ‘R.I.D.E.’ threatens to blow away the rest of the album, a nerve shattering, hissing and writhing statement of intent that might’ve been accidentally missed off one of their EP releases from back in the day. Taking the wall of noise template to its obvious conclusions, and with their trademark loud/quiet/loud song arrangements given additional impetus by an also on form Erol Alkan behind the mixing desk.
The synth backed pop melody of ‘Repetition’ shows us the Ride of an alternate continuum, in which they were the chart friendly indie dance maestros instead of the now mostly forgotten Jesus Jones. If ‘Clouds Of Saint Marie’ is just a good guitar number, little reminder is required that there isn’t anything average about Ride even when they’re just letting the instruments do it for them. ‘Eternal Recurrence’ revisits the ethos of ‘Vapour Trail’ just to remind us that there was a very good reason as to why you couldn’t find that songs video on Youtube a decade ago. ‘Dial Up’ shows us more of the folksy songwriting that Ride specialise in turning into glacial wall of noise epics. ‘Shadows Behind The Sun’ really does sound like it belongs on an expanded reissue of ‘Carnival Of Light’ and lastly ‘In This Room’ takes us through just about every sound Ride are able to make, from gently strummed acoustics through reverberating electronica to those vast swathes of guitar noise that they’re as good with today as ever.