How do I pick albums to review on Bored and Dangerous? Well, despite the fact that I know no one has ever wondered that, I’m gonna answer it anyway. I was at my computer at work, reading an article with the headline, “Thurston Moore Acknowledges That it’s Hard to Tell Sonic Youth Songs Apart”. If anyone has ever read my review of their album Sister, they’d know I found that headline very satisfying in the way that only spite being validated can make you feel.
An aging rock fan walked past my computer and scoffed at the headline. Of course he could tell Sonic Youth songs apart. Like all aging rock fans, he can’t let a chance go by to bang on about Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, who also go brought up seconds later as we argued about the point of Sonic Youth. But here’s the thing, it also lead him to banging on about a band I’d never heard of before, a band called Ride. There and then, he made me find their song Leave Them All Behind online and listen to its intro while he waited to see my reaction.
In what I have to assume is the first time in existence a conversation about Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine has ever lead to anything good, I fired up Leave Them All Behind, and he was right. Within the first bar of the drums and bass kicking in, I was the world’s newest Ride fan. Which is how I came to be listening to their album, Going Blank Again.
The rumbling bass and shattering drums build to become awesomely rambling rock that goes big and never backs down. Which makes the indie, jangled sweetness of Twisterella a surprise, but in a good way. This is where their oh-so-very-British 90s time and location become obvious in a way that didn’t infuriate me.
Things get ethereal with Chrome Waves. The drum kit and bass guitar are still there, but there’s a soaring keyboard that almost melds with the vocals to make something a little less in your face as the songs that preceded it, and little less interesting as well. Luckily, Mousetrap is right there, waiting to blow the cobwebs out that developed during the snooze fest that is Chrome Wars. Mousetrap comes at you so hard, it’s like the song itself became sentient and got angry about being held up by Chrome Wars.
Making Judy Smile proves that Ride had the whole shoegazing sound of 90s England well and truly perfected, and it’s totally fine. It just pales in comparison to their rockers. Ride, and Going Blank Again are both much more interesting when the volume and tempo are turned up. Way up.
So, I never thought I’d say this, but thank you Sonic Youth. Thank you My Bloody Valentine. A conversation about you guys that usually just leads to frustration and perplexion, has lead to the discovery of an awesome 90s band that has until now completely passed me by. An awesome 90s band with several more albums out there that I can’t wait to give a spin.