We are very pleased to announce that Ride guitarist and songwriter Andy Bell will release his second solo album, Flicker, via Sonic Cathedral on February 11. Written almost as a conversation with his teenage self, it follows the triumphant solo debut that was 2020’s The View From Halfway Down and was recorded by Andy with Gem Archer and mastered by Heba Kadry.
Flicker is available to pre-order on digital, CD and two gatefold double vinyl variants – the standard silver (frosted clear vinyl with a silver obi strip) and the Bandcamp exclusive gold (translucent ochre vinyl with a gold obi strip).
The 18-track double album finds Andy moving towards classic songwriting, notably on the strident harmonies of ‘World of Echo’, the joyous refracted loops of ‘Jenny Holzer B. Goode’, the fuzz-laden late-’60s balladeering of ‘Love Is The Frequency’ and the reflective lead single ‘Something Like Love’, which was premiered today (January 11) on Lauren Laverne’s BBC Radio 6 Music show. Watch the video by Chris Tomsett/Innerstrings below.
Stylistically, the four sides of Flicker take in everything from modern psychedelia to finger-picked folk, whimsical baroque pop, and Byrdsian 12-string beauty. It’s a breathtaking array and makes it even more abundantly clear that Andy has entered a purple patch in his songwriting, hitting a new velocity in contrast to his initial inhibitions about becoming a solo artist. He gradually overcame these after the passing of David Bowie in 2016, with the Thin White Duke’s bountiful 50 years of music providing inspiration from beyond the grave.
As well as the title, Flicker is also an apt description for the genesis of the album. At the start of 2021, Andy returned to the stems of the recording sessions he made at Beady Eye and Oasis bandmate Gem Archer’s North London studio and added fuel to the fire, writing melodies and lyrics and turning them into fully formed songs. The same sessions were also the starting point for The View From Halfway Down and this album picks up where that one left off, quite literally, with the very first words being “I was halfway down…”. This is the first of several playful, possibly intentional, references to albums and song titles that litter the record like a musical breadcrumb trail.
As much as this is a modern sounding and forward-looking record, it’s also very much about looking back, something that is clear from the front cover – a previously unseen outtake from Joe Dilworth’s photo sessions for the inner sleeve of Ride’s debut album, Nowhere.
“When I think about Flicker, I see it as closure,” explains Andy. “Most literally, on a half-finished project from over six years ago, but also on a much bigger timescale. Some of these songs date back to the ’90s and the cognitive dissonance of writing brand new lyrics over songs that are 20-plus years old makes it feel like it is, almost literally, me exchanging ideas with my younger self.”
This conversation takes place across Flicker’s 18 tracks. Essentially it advises against worrying about the future and to enjoy each day as it comes, embracing the crushing, unpredictable lows of life as much as the almighty highs. Some of it remains unspoken, taking place sonically rather than verbally – the beautiful stillness of first single ‘Something Like Love’ could almost be a musical salve to the heartache 19-year-old Andy poured into ‘Vapour Trail’ in 1990. There is a reflective, meditative feeling throughout, exploring many aspects of managing our mental health.
“The ‘flicker’ I’m talking about in the lyrics of ‘Something Like Love’ is that flame that makes a person who they are,” explains Andy. “I wanted to find that in myself, so I went back to the teenage me – a technique I learned in therapy and have been doing ever since – and got some advice on how to live and be happy in the 2020s.
“The View From Halfway Down was about turning 50 during a time of introspection; Flicker is about gathering the tools to equip myself mentally for life in 2022 and beyond – post-pandemic, post-Brexit, post-truth.”
To coincide with the release, Andy has added a few instore instrumental Space Station shows to the ones already announced as part of Independent Venue Week and he now plays the following:
January 31 – Three Wise Monkeys – Colchester
February 1 – Hot Box Live – Chelmsford
February 2 – The Black Prince – Northampton
February 3 – The Baths – Ipswich
February 4 – The Jericho Tavern – Oxford
February 6 – The Town Hall – Trowbridge
February 12 – Rough Trade East – London
February 13 – Rough Trade – Bristol
February 14 – Lost In Vinyl at The Portland Arms – Cambridge
February 15 – Rough Trade – Nottingham
February 16 – Resident Music – Brighton
February 18 – Elsewhere – Margate
March 3 – Pop Recs Ltd – Sunderland
March 4 – Gulliver’s NQ – Manchester
March 5 – The Fulford Arms – York