New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Review: ‘Interplay’ strives to reach for Ride’s highest highs and pave new roads for the future

The acclaimed rock band continues to evolve its post-reunion sound while also successfully taking a trip down memory lane.
Ride released its seventh studio album, “Interplay,” on March 29, 2024. (Courtesy photo by Cal McIntyre)

In its third album since a 2014 reunion, rock band Ride has dabbled in experimentation. With “Interplay,” the band blends atmospheric guitar effects with an electronic synth flair, creating a lush blend of disco and shoegaze that feels warm instead of overwhelming. Ride’s discography as a whole is divided by the band’s breakup and reunion in 1996 and 2014 respectively. In a time where it seems impossible for artists to live up to their past triumphs, Ride’s influence of dream pop and synth pop creates a fresh sound.

With 12 songs and at almost an hour long, there are moments on “Interplay” that are reminiscent of Ride at its inception. The band’s members — Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Steve Queralt and Loz Colbert — released their debut album “Nowhere” in 1990. 34 years later, “Interplay” still maintains some of the ethereal essence that Ride brought to the alternative rock genre.

“Portland Rocks” and “Last Night I Went Somewhere to Dream” contain a wall of cymbals, guitar leads and dreamlike vocal melodies that one can’t help but close their eyes and float away to. They carry a similar style and sentiment to one another, dripping with emotional texture and melancholy.

The lyrics of “Last Night I Went Somewhere to Dream” describe wanting to escape, “Running from a life / That’s running out of time / Believing in a future / That won’t be yours or mine.” The song feels especially true to the idea of desire and returning to a better time, especially listening to it following the pandemic.

“Interplay” allowed Ride to be unconfined to a specific sound. “We tried to mature way too quickly and started to take ourselves a bit too seriously,” Bassist Steve Queralt said in a 2008 interview. “I just feel we lost a bit of freedom and with it the courage to take our time creating something interesting and contemporary.”

The most enjoyable parts on this album aren’t exclusively the songs that emulate peak-shoegaze Ride. “Monaco” highlights the new style that Ride is veering toward. With bright synth chords and falsetto harmonies that seem ripped straight out of a track by A-ha track, it wears its dream-and-synth-pop influences on its sleeve. The pre-release track, “Peace Sign,” was the first example of the band trying to do something different and carve out a new identity.

The album’s closing track, “Yesterday Is Just a Song,” brings this idea home in its lyrics and haunting delivery: “Wanting more than this feels wrong / But you know I’m still greedy / I’ll always be this way.” Throughout the band’s discography — especially with this album — Ride has settled comfortably in its sound. Hopefully, Ride can continue to prove that its reunion wasn’t meant to relive the glory days, but to rewrite them.

While this stylistic step in a new direction is nothing groundbreaking and, at times, incohesive, it is still a promising declaration from the band that its best moments aren’t necessarily behind it. “Interplay” sees Ride at its most mature to date, making it clear the band is both embracing its past and expanding into new music genres.

Contact Alan Zhang at [email protected].

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