Given the tendency of U.S. college radio and the British music scene toward enigmatic, ethereal guitar bands, the last thing we need is a record like Nowhere, the first full-length album from the Oxford-based Ride. But, as on their earlier EP, Smile, the band creates something refreshing from elements that have become alternative-rock cliches. Singer-guitarist Mark Garderner writes the sort of wistful, melancholic songs you’re likely to see and hear on MTV’s 120 Minutes; the band plays them as misty folk-rock with spacious arrangements and airy harmonies. The crucial, and welcome, difference is one of sonic crunch. Garderner and fellow ax-slinger Andy Bell engulf songs like ”Decay” and ”Seagull” in waves of feedback and throbbing cacophonies that bounce off each other and give the music potency and force. Granted, Ride’s guitar squalor is particularly tasteful, even polite; at their most precious, they’re little more than Donovan with feedback. But the best of Nowhere takes you somewhere awfully beguiling. B

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