Review - Waves

Artist: Ride

In the shoegazing hierarchy, time has been particularly kind to this Oxford quartet. Apparently, lots of college kids were very fond of "Going Blank Again" back in 1992. However, it's important to remember that Ride was strictly second-tier (third-tier, if you assume that the twin godheads of the sound -- Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine -- are first-tier, rather than omnipotent, Olympus-dwelling superhumans). The band's jangle-pop tendencies eventually got the better of them and, for those of us who looked to the womb-rockers for gauzy ethereality, the incessant hooks of a song like "Twisterella" were just a little too well-defined and proper. Sure, the band's debut album, "Nowhere," was a record of glacial guitar swoon that nearly chewed its own tail off in self-involvement (that's a good thing), but from there, it was all proto-Oasis. And, despite what the 13 people who still care about this music may insist, "Going Blank Again," though excellent in its own right, is certainly not a "shoegazing masterpiece" in the literal sense.

The pop-band underpinnings of Ride are made abundantly clear on "Waves," a collection of five BBC sessions the band recorded between 1990 and 1994. The first session shows a band so unsure of themselves, they didn't even bring enough original material (they end up covering a Pale Saints song), resulting in a raw, distortion-washed set full of mistakes. From there it gets better, but despite the monstrously rich "Decay," pretty much all of the remainder is a document of a band turning into a finely-tuned classic pop machine. Again, not bad, but if you're looking for the roots of shoegazing, you won't find it here.

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