Ride: Interplay (Wichita)

Released May 3rd, 2024 via Wichita / By Richard Lewis
Ride: Interplay (Wichita) Reactivated on record since 2017 shoegaze pioneers Ride have experienced an Indian Summer of a career. Falling our of favour with the advent of Britpop, the quartet's second wind has produced Weather Diaries (2017) and This Is Not A Safe Place (2019), the latter in particular as strong as anything they released during their initial 1990-96 era.

Peace Sign kicks off Interplay in forthright fashion, adding to the Oxfordian's stockpile of perfect pop moments alongside Chelsea Girl, Twisterella and Future Love. Last Frontier is similarly upbeat, doffing its cap to New Order with Steve Queralt's plangent Hooky-style bassline.

With the opening double hit out of the way, the quartet venture into more experimental pastures. The synth shimmer of Light in a Quiet Room underlines the group's increasing focus on percolating electronic textures. A group never particularly noted for their lyrics, the couplet (I never took any good advice / I rode my luck for most of my life') stands out as one of their strongest, presumably autobiographical moments to date.

A spiky shard of synth pop redolent of OMD and psych minimalists Spacemen 3, Monaco underlines the group's increasing use of synths, whilst keeping Mark Gardener's plaintive vocals in focus. Stay Free is beautiful English psychedelic folk, a twilit variation on Weather Diaries' Shadows Behind the Sun, with the tumbling Last Night I Went Somewhere to Dream is cut from similar cloth. It's unclear whether Portland Rocks is named after the site off the Dorset coast or its US namesake (an ideal moniker for a festival in the Oregon wellspring).
An all-out shoegaze banger DIIV would be proud to call their own with Loz Colbert's exemplary beats well to the fore, this along with Midnight Rider sound like future live favourites.

In the minus column I Came to See the Wreck drags during its six minute runtime, while Sunrise Chaser and Yesterday Is Just a Song, a variation on the Bard's What's Past Is Prologue are pleasant but slightly inconsequential. Named after the walled Moroccan city complete with sample of a distant muezzin, Essaouira is a beatific drift of ambient guitar textures.

Pushing forward, unafraid to experiment after almost thirty-five years since they first debuted on vinyl, Ride still have inspiration to burn. 4/5