Fresh, vibrant and relaxed: ‘Rides’ may be Reef’s best journey yet… You’ll know ‘Rides’ is a Reef album in the two minutes and 33 seconds it takes the opening track ‘New Bird’ to uncoil. All the band’s calling cards – Kenwyn House’s sinewy guitar fills, Jack Bessant’s bubbling bass, Dom Greensmith’s muscular rhythms and Gary Stringer’s shameless gurning – are present and correct, and the song itself has the same assured swagger as much of ‘Glow’. The band is on familiar ground, playing to these strengths.
They can knock off snappy, Stones-meets-Zep rockers in their sleep, but here they’ve expanded their range and have been able to forge a seperate identity, something like a 90’s version of Brit rockers Uriah Heep. They display a lightness of touch which had previously seemed beyond them. See ‘Something To Say’ for evidence: rousing yet melancholic, it unfolds with effortless grace. The pastoral mood of ‘Hiding’ could have come straight out of the sessions for Led Zeppelin’s most relaxed album, 1970’s ‘III’. Better still is the deliciously laid-back ‘Sweety’, with its irresistible ‘na-na-na’ hook and some remarkable yelping from the otherwise restrained Stringer. Sadly, Reef conclude matters with the dreadfully drawn out ‘Funny Feeling’ this album’s ‘Robot Riff’: lots of sound effects, weak tune.