As an old man observes in Frank Capra’s classic film It’s A Wonderful Life: “youth is wasted on the wrong people…”
In Ride’s case, though, youth fell upon exactly the right people. Barely out of their teens when they first began tying the music press in rapturous knots, the Oxford four-piece still seem to encapsulate the blissful confusion, the exultant introversion of youth and young adulthood.
Arriving in October 1990, ‘Nowhere’ is perhaps the band’s definitive document. Momentum had been built across a series of EPs, virtually laying the blueprint for what was to become defined as shoegaze. In reality, though, the group’s sound is much broader than any one tag could consummate, veering from grunge influence to psychedelia, to the Pop Art vein that ran through their home on Creation.
Opening with the feedback squall of ‘Seagull’ and the doomed vocals of ‘Kaleidoscope’, ‘Nowhere’ still retains the power to thrill. ‘Polar Bear’ is simply wonderful songwriting, while ‘Decay’ and ‘Paralysed’ verge on the gothic.
‘Nowhere’ perhaps reaches its pinnacle in closing track ‘Vapour Trail’, a track that puts a sword to that old lie that indie kids lacked ambition. Continually veering outwards, the glacial chords give way to a string quartet, while Andy Bell delivers one of the album's finest, and most delicate, vocal performances.
Closing with bonus cuts from their lauded EPs – including confirmed indie disco staple ‘Taste’ – it remains a superbly inspiring document, a testament to the blind innovation, self-belief and self-doubt that comes with youth. For long term fans, the package includes newly unearthed live material recorded at London’s Town And Country Club venue – a snapshot in time, the re-mastering process has rendered the footage in clinical vitality.
A classic British debut album, ‘Nowhere’ still thrills, and, with Ride now powering back to live prominence, it more than deserves this second life.
Words: Robin Murray
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