The missing element

Oh yeah. That’s what’s been missing in corporate alternative music for the past decade.

A European influence. More precisely, a British influence. (Oasis and Blur don’t count. Nyah.)

Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, deities bless, brought punk kicking and screaming into the mainstream but in doing so locked record moguls into thinking what America needed was an entire decade of thrice-removed punk pop mixed with — cough — heavy metal.

Idlewild reminds folks who grew up during Ronald Reagan’s second term of what made listening to the Replacements, the Cure and pre-Warner Bros. R.E.M. such a blissful experience.

100 Broken Windows sounds like an album written in the late ’80s but recorded in the late ’90s. Singer Roddy Woomble has already drawn comparisons to Morrisey, and the alternately jangly-buzzy guitar work of Rod Jones calls to mind Peter Buck and Thurston Moore.

Woomble’s thick accent and the band’s clear avoidance of anything resembling a blues chord gives Idlewild it’s distinctly British sound. Chances are, the young guys in this quartet don’t count Boston as a major influence in their music, and thank heaven for that.

If anything, Idlewild draws on enough punk to give its incredibly tuneful pop some guts. Songs such as “Little Discourage”, “I don’t have a map”, “Mistake pageant” rock hard while still delivering indelible hooks.

The band’s lyrics certainly keep with British bands’ art school tradition of crypticism. “Gertrude Stein said that’s enough,” Woomble sings on “Roseability,” evidently knowing the late poet’s current state of mind.

100 Broken Windows is good stuff. There’s really no other way to describe it.