By: Eric Greenwood
Ride’s first proper album propelled the band to cult status in 1990 in the aftermath of The Stone Roses' massively influential debut. Nowhere expanded the wash of guitar architecture of the band's previous two EPs: Play and Smile- a style similarly pursued by bands like My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus And Mary Chain, and Lush. Ride blended haunting, melodic vocals with a colossal wall of guitars that swirled in an eerily melodic haze, creating a nameless, faceless beauty of insurmountable proportions.
Clearly, The Byrds inspired the band’s lush soundscapes and crystalline harmonies, but Ride took its predecessors’ seeds and incorporated a noisier attack with modern, danceable beats that were in vogue amidst the reigning Manchester dance scene. Ride’s huge sound was a cacophonous and intimidating thing to behold. The ethereal and languid vocal melodies of Mark Gardener and Andy Bell balanced the pulsating mass of sound without compromising its effectiveness.
The lyrics were actually as esoteric as the vocals sounded. Mark Gardener’s ability to make his words float like nearly forgotten dreams certainly added to the group’s mystique. What may have read like naïve poetry on paper sounded utterly profound through Gardener's and Bell's angelic lilts. The strangest thing about Nowhere was its amount of memorable hooks buried underneath all the glaze of distortion and effects. The songs literally whirled around, enveloping the listener in a gauzy, pristine dreamworld, where dark things lurked in the corners.
Nowhere's shining moment, Andy Bell’s “Vapour Trail”, blended fragile, dreamy vocals with a breezy, uplifting guitar line that grew into light melancholic crescendo. Nowhere is a surprisingly dark album, though, setting folk-rock harmonies against a minor-keyed backdrop of noisy minutiae. This was Ride's masterpiece. The band would go on to achieve elements of the brilliance contained on Nowhere with the follow-up, Going Blank Again, but it would never release another album this moving or important.