During a 27-month period in which they released four EPs and two albums, Ride grew from a charmingly scruffy composite of inspirations into a source of gleaming nuggets that mixed power pop and dream pop with confident emphasis on the former. At the end of this phase, Ride recorded a song about entering a time machine. When the band reappeared two years later, they sounded and looked as if they had taken one through the late '60s. A couple years after that, album four arrived with the band no longer intact, their farewell single a backslide across Primal Scream's retracing of Stones/Faces steps. After nearly 20 years spent mostly apart -- they met up in 2001 to record an improvisation for a Sonic Youth documentary -- Ride re-formed for gigs, then recorded their fifth album with production from Erol Alkan and mixing from old partner Alan Moulder. Considering Ride's fast and prolific early development, the museum phase that followed, and two decades of near silence, Weather Diaries isn't easy to separate from the history that led to it. Not wanting to pick up where they left off, Ride hoped to generate the positive energy they felt as they made second album Going Blank Again. Weather Diaries in turn sounds like the work of a version of Ride that perhaps vanished immediately after that set, with neither Carnival of Light nor Tarantula in their past. Much of Weather Diaries lyrically is unmistakably a 2017 work. In the first three songs, there are allusions to Brexit, a reference to an "acid sweating hunchback apparition" who "sets fire to your world," and the feeling of an "ill wind blowing." Later, there's some existentialism, suspicion in another setting that what's "too perfect" is a mirage, and a bit of reflection about the band's break and existence. There are also states of contentment and bliss to fill out an emotionally rounded group of songs that looks outward more often than any previous Ride release. Whether downcast or upbeat, drifting or driving, the songs levitate with those familiar sighing/soaring harmonies and cascading guitar lines, and a slight haze that coats almost everything, thickening only for a brief ambient instrumental. There are other flashes of the past, good and bad, from the spring-loaded rhythms to reminders of the sometimes vast qualitative disparity between their melodies and lyrics. Ultimately, compared to their 1996 sendoff, this is more like it.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman