This was originally posted 12th January 2010. See the article here.
Dear readers, a strange thing has happened.
One of the finest British rock albums of the past few years has been released, but where was the fanfare? Where were the suck-up reviews?
Where were the legions of listeners parading through the streets chanting “I-dle-wild! I-dle-wild!” whilst their slaves constructed 80ft tall effigies of Roddy Woomble out of haggis atop Scotland’s highest and most forbidding peaks?
Well, truth is that the excitement and acclaim is there, but once again Scotland’s finest post-punk export has remained gracefully bubbling away beneath the mainstream’s tired and ravaged surface.
In fact, it’s pretty hard to find a genuinely spiteful review of Idlewild’s latest release ‘Post Electric Blues’. Even those reviewers who previously held some unprovoked grudge against the band have gone back in their tracks, admitting that this album is an incredible creation; powerful, passionate, delicate and one-hundred percent balls-out brilliant.
It will come as no surprise to you that I am an Idlewild super-fan. In fact, their recent album shows rank up in my favourite gigs of all time. I know, I know. Pick your jaws up off the floor.
Ten-second rule applies. I was one of the few-thousand recipients of the original pressings of the album; funded by a pre-order scheme, and lovingly packaged from the drummer’s house (I kept the jiffy bag and sometimes smell it).
Looking through the imposing list of names on the poster included with this very special disc, I feel proud that my own title is there amongst all those other fans that hold this particular band so close to their hearts (I think I’m on the right somewhere).
So, let us turn our attentions to the musical content itself. When I first listened to this album way back in June (it was finally released properly in October) I was immediately hooked.
As an opener, ‘Younger than America’ raises the bar far higher than any other of the band’s introductory songs to date. Roddy Woomble’s lyrics have been consistently improving over the years, reaching a new plateau of brilliance on his 2006 solo album ‘My Secret Is My Silence’ (stunning, and well worth checking out).
Rod and Allan’s duelling guitars set off with frenetic pace here, harnessing an energy and dexterity that remains throughout the album. Gareth’s bass-lines, once claustrophobic and confined, are now free to explore new lands of melodic and rhythmic imagination, while Colin’s drum grooves maintain the precision and experimentation of earlier albums, never hindered by the band’s slower, more meditative style of recent years.
‘(The Night Will) Bring You Back To Life’ and ‘Take Me Back To The Islands’ showcase the bands softer, folk influenced side, whilst tracks such as ‘Take Me Back In Time’ and the Keane-tinged ‘Circles In Stars’ make it clear that Idlewild are not afraid to push themselves away from the style in which they first captured our affections.
The songs are melodic and catchy (one listen of ‘Readers & Writers’ is enough to render your brain immobilised, save for the incessantly brilliant riff which you will be singing to yourself for months to come), but never lose the intricacies and originality that Idlewild have honed throughout their extensive career.
It seems that now, free from the dictatorship of the major labels, Idlewild can stretch their limbs and firmly establish themselves as one of Britain’s most important and forward-thinking creators of rock n’ roll magnificence.