Wednesday, March 07, 2007


So, the new Idlewild album, Make Another World, came out on Monday and... well, it's a bit of a pick-and-mix to be honest. Obviously the band are trying to get back to the sonic-texture of their earlier, more youthful albums. And I can't fault them for trying to make another 100 Broken Windows - that album means the world to me. I have three copies!

But, but, but: Roddy Woomble has clearly moved on - the folk album, My Secret Is My Silence - co-written with Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones - was an attempt to get the calmer stuff out of their systems so that the band could present a unified front and become a melody-based rock band again. And songs like "Everything As It Moves" and "If It Takes You Home" do make a fair attempt at regaining much of the old sound, but there's a mildly irritating inconsistency throughout the entire album - most likely caused by the band's desire to revert back to their old ways.

To me, it sounds a bit like a minor mid-life crisis. This is a fantastic band who no longer know what they want to do. As uncool as it is to say so, I liked their last album. And the one before that. Sure, they didn't make me as deliriously happy, or ridiculously ready to go out dancing, as 100 Broken Windows, but I hold nothing against sonic-evolution, and I appreciated the incredible melodies that Roddy Woomble could deliver. This album leaves the impression that their desire to once again be what they once were is stifling their creativity: yes, the album's enjoyable, but they're capable of so much more.


Finished It Remains

Strange then, perhaps, that my favourite song off the new Idlewild record is the final track. If we were to play the genres game - which is old-school and NME-esque - then how could this song be pigeonholed? It doesn't know whether it wants to be a straightforward pop song (the opening "da-da-dun! da-da-dun!" guitar riff; the roll-of-the-tongue delivery of the line, "the three of us, are sittin' up...), soundtrack a film (1:31 - 2:01 where it flirts with all things epic and/or post-rock-esque), be an uptempo folk-lullaby (2:04 - 2:08: those harmonies) or be a reckless rock and roll song (2:07 - 3:20 : those guitar histrionics!). Perhaps the best part of the whole song though, is when it simultaneously side-steps and incorporates all these elements (2:52 - 2:56) and Roddy Woomble delivers such a fragile yet self-assured vocal for the line, "Leave... me... gone...". [Buy]

Roddy Woomble featuring Karine Polwart

If I Could Name Any Name

The aforementioned departure by Roddy Woomble and Rod Jones, is ever-so-slightly more than just a folk record. It incorporates elements of folk, indie, and rock, to make a by turns calm and exuberant album. It isn't groundbreaking or entirely innovative; it isn't going to appear on any "Greatest Albums Of All Time" list's like those that Q is so fond of. Yet, it's one of those albums that I'll always go back to - enduring and charming because of, and not in spite of, its old-new-borrowed-blue nature. [Buy]

Karine Polwart and Edwin Morgan

The Good Years

The previous song featured Karine Polwart, and this one is a collaboration between her and the author Edwin Morgan, once again taken from the Ballads of the Book compilation. An easy-listening folk song, with none of the fiddles or over-the-top bagpipes you might associate with Scottish folk. Focused, succinct, and so soft - like silk - both musically and lyrically. Everything in this song - the arpeggios, the strummed chords, the harmonies - lead up to that final line: "these the good years". It's such a nice, pleasant song, such a simple, idyllic idea, that it's hard not to feel content; warm; happy - soothed by such a swooning lullaby. [Buy]

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