Neil Kulkarni reviews Tarantula by Ride, 9th March 1996

September 3, 2008

Neil Kulkarni reviews Tarantula by Ride, 9th March 1996

On the subject of demise here’s Ride’s swansong Tarantula reviewed by Neil Kulkarni.

Poor old Ride. By this stage no one gave a shit about this band and yet for a few brief months no other band came close to how sublime Ride were. I mean just look at Mark Gardner in this photo. I’d have hacked off my right arm to have looked like this when I was 19. I’ll admit to being one of those unhip kids who wore a Ride T-Shirt but I don’t think it ever helped me score. Girls or drugs. Not surprising really. Ride did become uncool very, very quickly. And the lyrics were awful. Somehow they worked on the first EP’s, but then I think they started forcing the lyrics and it’ll all became toe curlingly Oasis-like.

I know *no one* will agree with me but it would be my contention that those early Ride EP’s paved the way for the mainstream success My Bloody Valentine went on to have with Loveless. The poppier, younger, painfully beautiful Ride bridged the gap from where MBV were to the charts by helping to create a musical climate where noise was accepted by the more conservative record buyer. Anyone back me up on this? Thought not.

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2 Responses to “Neil Kulkarni reviews Tarantula by Ride, 9th March 1996”

  1. phil Says:

    Ahhh! A touching attempt to save Ride from the ignobility they richly deserve!

    Deal with it. You were young and you were wrong.

    Ride paved the way for a wave of successively duller proto-britpop ‘shoegaze’ bands. Bands like Chapterhouse and Slowdive. Bands for whom the term ‘derivative’ is too flattering.

    On the strength of Melody Maker’s enthusiasm I wasted my student loan on records that I was perplexed to find had nothing in common with the brain melting rush of MBV’s You Made Me Realise EP. Instead, I just got a load of spineless droning or worse, sub C86 jangling.

    Forget Romo, I think this was the beginning of the end of my infatuation with Melody Maker.

    Or at least, I stopped accepting everything in it as gospel and started to pick up on those tangents that would lead to shocking revelations like the first Mercury Rev album – which came out in 1991, the same year as Loveless.

    For me the comparison is revealing. If Loveless had any mainstream success it was more likely to do with the acceptance of techno and electronica – you could hear what was once an extreme underground sound in a shoe shop on Oxford Street.

    The gushing critical praise probably helped but possibly also paralyzed the band with the weight of expectation.

    The Mercury Rev album, as far as I recall, barely got reviewed to begin with. I think I first heard of them in a review of The Flaming Lips ‘In A Priest Driven Ambulance’ – due to the shared band members.

    And yet, Yerself Is Steam is as groundbreaking and awesome as Loveless and should probably occupy a similar place in the pantheon of critical untouchables along with Pet Sounds, Loveless and recently it seems, OK Computer.

    Where am I going with this? Oh yes. The British music press. Mercury Rev continued, developed and made some occasionally great records. MBV came to a halt. And I suspect the hype and expectation supplied by Melody Maker et al was partly responsible.

    Bands need obscurity to flourish. This is why most of the really inventive stuff of recent years has come out under the radar.

    Maybe even Ride would have done something good if they’d been left alone for a few years.

    (cue Ride’s critical rehabilitation and untouchable cult status!)

  2. patrick122 Says:

    @ phil Looks like Melody Maker helped you figure out what you do and don’t like in music. I’m not really sure why you expected every band to sound like MBV though? I think you dismiss the contributions of some of the bands much too easily, though. While Chapterhouse might seem insignificant (I suggest some of the later records; I think they nailed the electronic shoegaze sound better than anyone until maybe The Depreciation Guild), Souvlaki and Pygmalion are in my eyes musical milestones that paved the way for a lot of 90’s noisier and electronic flavoured pop and especially slowcore. Low, Codeine, Red House Painters, M83, Ulrich Schnauss and others owe much to Neil Halstead’s graceful and touching takes on rock in the time of (the death of) grunge, and on Pygmalion he shows that he can easily strip away the noise, and still retain something so beautiful at the heart. I mean, have you heard “Machine Gun”? Jesus, that song is good enough to marry and fuck slowly and passionately.

    That said, Tarantula is pretty fucking boring indeed. I’m guessing the pressure from Oasis’ success by this point was too much to bear.


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