Idlewild – Everything Ever Written
A well-worked blend of misty-eyed maturity and vitality marks Idlewild's first album since 2009's Post Electric Blues
Ask the band and they’ll tell you this isn’t their comeback record, for how can you make a comeback if you’ve never really been away? Despite going on semi-official hiatus following 2009’s Post Electric Blues and their subsequent solo careers (singer Roddy Woomble with an ever more folk-leaning output, guitarist Rod Jones with his other project The Birthday Suit), Idlewild’s members have remained close. In the intervening period, they’ve been writing and recording this album, albeit in a less formal and pressured environment which might have a record company breathing down their neck with a deadline.
The album title is a fitting one, as this looser process has yielded a record which seems to integrate each facet of the band’s sound from various points in their history. Harking back to their earliest days, they make the kind of noise which Woomble hasn’t been involved with in a few years. In particular, the opener ‘Collect Yourself’ is a memorable statement of intent, a collision of Jones’ low-slung riffs (he variously sounds like he’s auditioning for the Stone Roses and Aerosmith), a beat with a faint hip-hop echo to it and Woomble’s typically questioning lyrics.
‘Young, but only for a moment in time / Younger, but only frozen in time,’ he asserts, as though coming to terms that this step into old shoes is the right thing to be doing. There’s similar urgency to ‘Come on Ghost’ and ‘Nothing I Can Do About It’, both stridently reminiscent of Big Country, and the punky, itchy-footed ‘On Another Planet’ whose lyric (‘we’ve got more in common than sorrow’) is one of Woomble’s most resonant.
Away from these poppy main roads, though, the album also explores Dylanesque backstreets like the rootsy ‘So Many Things to Decide’ and ‘All Things Different’, reserved sophisti-pop (‘Left Like Roses’) and fragile piano balladry (‘Utopia’). For fans of the group, this well-worked blend of misty-eyed maturity and careening vitality should go down well.
Everything Ever Written is released Mon 16 Feb on Empty Words.