Idlewild - Post Electric Blues (4 stars)

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Idlewild - Post Electric Blues

(Cooking Vinyl)

With a bulky back catalogue soaked in boisterous, if melancholic, guitar rock the expectation for Idlewild was always for them to make their Automatic for the People: a weighty album which crystallised all their most extreme emotions. Post Electric Blues gathers up the requisite joy, breathless excitement and the even the impudence for such a project, but steers away from the truly introspective.

‘Readers and Writers’ is a shot of pure crystalline pop, and while the brass parps and the guitars ring out, Roddy Woomble seems almost flirtatious, even if lyrically he remains joyfully obtuse at points. The Johnny Marr-esque swing and swoop of ‘All Over the Town’ is tucked in behind the monolithic guitar strangling of ‘Post Electric’, a double bill that illustrates their six-string chops to perfection.

That said; there are frustrating moments where you wish they’d take things up or down a gear and really go for it. A couple of songs float along sweetly but fail to go for the emotional jugular like they could or should.

This is perhaps symptomatic of bands deliberating between sticking to what they’re good at to satisfying a loyal fan base or risking it all to adventure outside their creative comfort zone. This is something that many bands struggle with over time: Wilco, REM and Mogwai are all pertinent examples. And while Idlewild haven’t thrown out their rulebook by any means, Post Electric Blues shows they are happy to bend some rules.

This is confident, astute, concise guitar pop record which, in the current deafening sea of 80s aping, indie am-dram non-contenders that clutter our earholes, is something to be savoured.

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