Release Date: Feb 16, 2015
Record label: Empty Words
Idlewild were once a very special band indeed. Unique among their contemporaries at the time of their formation back in ’95, they were a British band that didn’t imitate American underground rock, but seemed to actually be a European outpost of the same. While other acts attempted to regurgitate grunge and college rock in typically ham-fisted fashion, Idlewild felt and sounded like the real deal.
Six years is a hiatus by anyone’s standards, but it does give one time to think. Until 2009, Edinburgh’s Idlewild had released six albums in 15 years, riding the tail end of brit-pop and mid-noughties indie-rock since front man Roddy Woomble bonded at an Edinburgh party with drummer Colin Newton way back in the mid-’90s. As people, (and those in bands are of course people too), get older, sometimes it makes sense to stop and reflect.
To emphasize one’s creative pursuits as “mature” too much is almost like admitting you’re fully aware of your own mediocrity. Or it can simply mean that you’re indifferent about what criticism may arise from finally shedding your old ways. In the case on Scottish mainstays Idlewild, though, it’s been a long process of trying to make others accept that their earlier, fast-paced spunk was just a phase.
Idlewild formerly sounded propelled by a wild, emotional urgency: from their stark and visceral roots on Captain and 100 Broken Windows, to the bittersweet, cinematic soar of later releases. Seven albums in – five years since their last – and that ardour that first distinguished them from the rest of the indie landfill is more or less absent. In its place is mellowed country, tattered folk and the odd whiff of MOR rock.
Idlewild’s first new album in five years is a reaffirmation of what makes them one of Scotland’s most loved and enduring rock bands. ‘Everything Ever Written’ is indeed an apposite title for an album that encompasses numerous different takes on the band’s long established indie rock sound while also stretching out into the folksier pastures that singer Roddy Woomble has embarked upon since the band went on hiatus in 2009. The album begins in rock mode with two turbo charged openers.
Legendary Scottish indie-rock outfit Idlewild were long gone up until a few months ago, but their epitaphs were never carved in stone; they always knew they’d come back, even if the cult-like fanbase had started to lose faith in a return. After a brief stint touring Highland venues and remote Scottish islands, Idlewild set upon a familiar route – they were ready to release a new record. Everything Ever Written is the first studio LP from the band since 2009’s Post Electric Blues, which was somewhat of a return to form after a brace of lukewarmly-received efforts.
Scottish rockers Idlewild have come a long way from their punk-infused start in Edinburgh 20 years ago, but they arrive with a positive jolt here. Singer Roddy Womble and guitarist Rod Jones still form the nucleus on the band’s first new album in six years, with new members Luciano Rossi (keyboards) and Andrew Mitchell (bass) helping to push Idlewild’s maturing, melodic-rock sound, which also touches on folk and psychedelia, into more experimental terrain. The opening “Collect Yourself” rocks hard with fuzz-guitar reverb and reflective lyrics that admit we are “young, but only for a moment.
Idlewild have been a band for twenty years now, and doesn't it show. The blood-rush riots that passed as early gigs have slipped beneath tangible memory to become simply a feeling, a wisp on a wind that becomes a whole only when stirred by a revisit to Hope Is Important. The manoeuvres that took the Scots from scrappy punks who could barely play to sensible-shoed R.E.M.