Ride: Going Blank Again (1992)

Struggling through a somewhat bleak indie rock landscape at the end of the 80s, British shoegaze was one thing that helped get me through. And Ride's early single "Taste" was a key song of the era, a wake-up call to an exciting new sound, pop buried beneath a wall of buzz (kinda like the Jesus and Mary Chain), but with strains of psychedelia and ethereal dislocation. And while 1990's full-length debut Nowhere was pretty great, driven largely on the strength of that single, it was the follow-up that showed the band had some musical chops beyond the novelty of the emerging genre.

Going Blank Again sanded off some of the more abrasive feedback of the debut, providing more room for the 60s-influenced early Britpop of bands like the Stone Roses to filter through -- though it remained enough of a distortion-drenched assault to scare off some casual onlookers. The fantastic opening epic "Leave Them All Behind" features some psychedelic swirls a la My Bloody Valentine's Loveless from the prior year; and like that album, it's more a wash of sound than a song, yet still featuring a catchy vocal hook beneath the groove as well as an engaging, percolating keyboard loop and soaring harmonies. "Time Of Her Time" has a similar vibe, but more concise and hook-driven, another Loveless-like twisted guitar riff masking an otherwise straightforward psyche-pop tune, and it's a personal fave; and "OX4," following a slow, ambient lead-in, adds some Manchester baggy dance grooves to the mix.

Elsewhere they do away with the wall of noise almost altogether, songs like "Twisterella" nursing pure jangly pop more reminiscent of the Stone Roses or New Order's more guitar-driven tunes, while "Making Judy Smile" heralds a playful, tuneful Britpop sentiment. 

While clearly of its time, the album holds up well today, the catchy tunes clawing through the din keeping it fresh. 

Here's the video for "Leave Them All Behind":
 Here's "Time Of Her Time" live:
 ...and "OX4" live:
...and, just one more, a live take on "Making Judy Smile":
I find the 1994 follow-up Carnival of Sound an equally solid LP, further loosening the band's shoegaze roots and going with an almost entirely psychedelic-pop sound. The band returned from an extended hiatus a couple years back, with some surprisingly great records that saw the band updating their sound yet retaining the overall vibe of earlier work.

Comments

  1. A fantastic record. Ride at their collective peak. The albums that followed weren't nearly as memorable to my ears (I can't even think of a single song from Tarantula), though I do like some of the songs from the revived Ride. "Twisterella" was proof that the band could still write an an incredible tune that wasn't buried under layers of shoegaze haze. Okay, lets pick out some fire hydrants...

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