Precious few of the old shoegaze giants remain as relevant and as resolutely progressive as Ride. Even on their sixth record, This Is Not a Safe Place, Ride maintain the same persistent youthfulness that’s been critical to their success over the last few decades. As their first two albums from the early 90s, Nowhere and Going Blank Again, are pinnacles of shoegaze, the fact that Ride hold such esteemed status as the “godfathers” of the genre is in no small part due to their pop tendencies. Among other draws, such as Andy Bell’s iridescent, Sixties-psychedelia-inspired vocal delivery and their iconic, inexorable washes of guitar, Ride’s particular brand of shoegaze injected Britpop into the genre with far greater volume and success than any of their peers. This Is Not a Safe Place, Ride’s second comeback album since reforming in 2014, sees them edge ever further towards that purer pop sound.

Though that may disappoint shoegaze purists, it’s that energy and desire to produce cleaner, more straightforward music that ultimately keeps Ride from nestling into a stylistic rut. This Is Not a Safe Place, as Weather Diaries before it, manages to competently traverse modern tastes for shoegaze through building it seamlessly into a cleaner and more accessible aesthetic - this time through a focus on post-punk and dream pop.

And while the results aren’t wholly spectacular, the most resonant tracks here rank among the best of any of Ride’s post-Going Blank Again releases. From the easy-going indie pop of lead single ‘Future Love’, to ‘Jump Jet’ and its fully-utilised, post-punk-esque riff, Ride prove they can masterfully put together a catchy tune or two without dumbing themselves down. There’s hints too, in tracks like ‘Eternal Recurrence’ and ‘In This Room’, that Ride still have a lingering ability to provide some kind of sonic experience. ‘Fifteen Minutes’, meanwhile, is so youthful and reminiscent of Andy Bell’s early-Nineties vocal style that it almost sounds like he’s wrestling with a teenage romance.

Yet, despite all this stylistic development and reinvigorated pop energy, This Is Not a Safe Place not only lacks many elements of what made Ride’s first couple of records so defining, but lacks almost anything that makes them stand out at all. Ride are currently faring far better than many of their Golden-Age-Shoegaze peers -and this is certainly a far better stab at pop than their limp mid-Nineties Britpop records Carnival of Light and Tarantula- but This Is Not a Safe Place has few components (if any) that one could identify as part of a unique or distinctive sound. ‘Repetition’, for example, shows the more mundane, irritating side to endorsing post-punk and could have been an underwhelming cut from any of the early 2000s’ post-punk revivalists (as could the overtly aesthetic opening track ‘R.I.D.E.’ or the angsty, hollow ‘Kill Switch’). Meanwhile, filler like ‘Dial Up’, ‘Clouds of Saint Marie’ and ‘Shadows Behind the Sun’ pad the record out to an unnecessarily long fifty minutes.

Ride have come a long way since being known as the “godfathers of shoegaze.” Far gone are the band known for their unique washes of tidal reverb and, on This Is Not a Safe Place, they are further from that iconic sound than at any other point in their careers. Their newer, glossier pop sheen pedestals them as the makers of proficiently written and intently catchy tunes that are inoffensive and innocuous - and never adventurous enough not to be.