Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 9/2/08.
If the term shoegaze, a genre that combines elements of dream-pop with noise rock and space rock, is mentioned. The one that band that's often talked about in that conversation is My Bloody Valentine. With only two full-length albums to their credit from 1988-1991, the legendary Irish quartet led by Kevin Shields were one of the most acclaimed and enigmatic groups as the band had recently reunited. Though My Bloody Valentine is the most famous band of that genre. There were several other bands that also helped define the genre such as Slowdive, Lush, Chapterhouse, and most of all, Ride. Formed in 1988 in Oxford, England by singer/guitarist Mark Gardener and guitarist/vocalist Andy Bell along with bassist Steve Queralt and drummer Laurence Colbert. Ride were signed to the prestigious indie label Creation Records, home to My Bloody Valentine.
In 1990, the band released three acclaimed EPs: Ride, Fall, and Play. Play was the third EP whose tracks later appear in the band's acclaimed 1990 debut album Nowhere that was later followed by the Today Forever EP. In 1992 after the release of their second full-length album Going Blank Again, Creation Records released a compilation of the band's first two EPs, Ride and Fall, entitled Smile. Written and produced by Ride, the Smile compilation is an eight-track album combining the band's first two EPs to display their dreamy yet distorted rock sound that provided a different approach to the shoegaze genre. The first half focuses on Ride while the second on Fall. The result is one of the most essential records of the genre.
The album opener Chelsea Girl is an upbeat, guitar-driving song with Steve Queralt's pounding bass line, Laurence Colbert's fast, hard-hitting drums, and the twin guitar drive of Mark Gardener and Andy Bell, the latter of whom sings with Gardener joining in for the chorus. Filled with psychedelic-driven lyrics and swirling guitar drones, it's one of the band's definitive songs. Drive Blind arrives with arpeggio-like guitar riffs and then a driving bass and guitar drone with mid-tempo drums as Mark Gardener sings the song with its descriptive yet hazy lyrics through Gardener's soft yet dream-like vocals. With the twin guitar layering of distorted drone and swirling arpeggios, it's a wonderful concoction of rock.
All I Can See is a bouncy, mid-tempo song that starts off slow with fuzzy arpeggio-chiming guitar melodies layered with droning riffs as Queralt's bass start to pound with Colbert's drum playing. With its swirling guitars, Gardner's dream-like vocals, and indistinct yet hazy lyrics. The song shows the band's knack for psychedelia mixed in with washy shoegaze-style guitars. Close My Eyes is a slow yet driving track led by Queralt's bass line and droning guitars as Gardner sings the song's dream-like lyrics. With its smooth, dreamy presentation and underpinning of layered, fuzzy guitars, it's another excellent song from the band. The second half begins with Like A Daydream is an upbeat, swirling track with rollicking drums, smooth bass lines, and layers of washy and arpeggio guitars with Bell and Gardener singing the song in their evocative harmonies. With its dream-like lyrics, the song plays to the style of dream-pop but with droning, siren-like guitar tracks.
Silver is a slow yet thunderous track filled with hard-hitting drums, wobbly bass lines, and drone-wailing guitars as Mark Gardener leads the song with his eerie, low vocals to the song's desperate lyrics. Though the song's production is a bit muddled, it works to convey the sound of its guitars and pounding drums. Furthest Sense is an upbeat song filled with driving guitars mixed in with arpeggio melodies and pounding rhythms as Bell takes control with his higher-pitched yet dream-like vocals. With its crashing, pounding beats and spacey lyrics, it's one of the stand out cuts on the record. The album closer Perfect Time is an upbeat song with fast-paced instrumental breaks with rollicking drums and driving guitars as Bell and Gardener sing the song with their dream-like harmonies and angst-ridden lyrics. The song slows down by the end of the first half with wailing guitar fuzz drones and arpeggio melodies as it turns into an instrumental jam filled with spurts of feedback.
Smile is an excellent record from Ride. Despite a few muddled moments in the production, the record is an excellent compilation of the band's first two EPs. Fans of the group will want this to experience Ride in their glory years of 1990-1992. For shoegaze enthusiasts, it's one of those records that showed the genre in full bloom. In the end, Smile is an excellent, dreamy compilation from Ride.
Ride Albums: Nowhere - Going Blank Again - (Carnival of Light) - (Tarantula) - (OX4: The Best of Ride)
(C) thevoid99 2011