Ride's second post-millennial album starts with two of their most contrasting songs. It's set off with a bombastic instrumental that, 27 years earlier, might have been relegated to a B-side licensed for a Gregg Araki soundtrack. Next is "Future Love," a golden-hour delight shimmering like nothing else in the band's catalog, albeit with rush-inducing harmonies and hurtling drums evoking their early days. Tempestuous extremes in quality and style also characterize much of what follows on This Is Not a Safe Place. "End Game" presents a bleak flip side to "Future Love," recalling Faith-era Cure before a violent outburst amid Mark Gardener's resentful protestations of "What went wrong? What is wrong with you?" The downer mood is felt elsewhere in the pummeling "Kill Switch" and thrashing "Fifteen Minutes," a pair of antagonistic numbers fronted by Andy Bell. The guitars on the latter itself vacillate, generating Sonic Youth-like gentle hypnotism and then dropping the hammer almost exactly as those of Swervedriver did on "Duel." On the comparatively blithe "Repetition," Ride quote one of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's creativity-stimulating Oblique Strategies cards, and they maybe pulled "Use an old idea" a few times while writing and recording. Obvious above all else is "Clouds of Saint Marie," like "Vapor Trail" a wistful remembrance using condensed water as a metaphor for lost love. Whether the ideas are Ride's own or those of other bands, they tend to be good ones, slightly twisted or prized apart and rearranged. Mixed results notwithstanding, This Is Not a Safe Place is further proof that these four musicians belong beside one another. They won't make the long-list for the Patrick Fitzgerald Shoegaze Poet Award, but they still create quite a sighing racket.
This Is Not a Safe Place Review
by Andy Kellman