Yup. The 80s are definitely back.
Idlewild, the Scottish band that reminded crusty listeners (namely, me) post-punk music wasn’t all about grunge, is really sounding like the Smiths now.
Roddy Woomble’s warble (say that five times fast) inherently possesses shades of Morrisey, but on the band’s fourth album, The Remote Part, so do the melodies.
“Living in a Hiding Place” is a prime example. It’s far too easy to hear Morrisey’s slurred delivery on the song’s chorus. “Tell Me Ten Words” channels its fair share of Green– and Document-era R.E.M. Although “You Held the World in Your Arms” blares with some hard guitar playing, the strings in the background scream “new wave”.
Hints of Idlewild’s charged-up tuneful punk show up now and again — “A Modern Way of Letting Go”, “I Am What I Am Not”, “Out of Routine”.
But for the most part,
The Remote Part has softer edges, friendlier songs (especially for radio), more craft — and less spunk.
That’s not to say the album isn’t enjoyable. “American English” is downright gorgeous, a wonderfully majestic tune. “The Remote Part/Scottish Fiction” makes for a tender conclusion.
But if you’re looking for the immediacy of 100 broken windows, The Remote Part might feel like a let down.
Or it might feel like a success.
Make no mistake — Idlewild does indeed stretch its songwriting chops on this album, and the band does succeed in delivering a taut album with no fillers.
After a period of adjustment, The Remote Part turns out to be just as listenable as 100 broken windows — just different. The loss of an edge hasn’t meant a descent into creative bankruptcy.
And while that spunkier Idlewild may be missed, the more crafted Idlewild is certainly welcome.