This album is the 5th by a band recently voted as the third best in Scottish History. The album came at a very important time for the band. Having first began to attract a wider audience through the third album "100 broken Windows"; Idlewild broke through with "The Remote part" an album that saw the release of several singles/videos. It was important for the band to follow this up with something of similar quality. Personally I think they achieved it.
The band split their time writing the album between California and Glenelg in the Scottish Highlands. They also recruited a new bassist and Allan Stewart joined them on a permanent basis having previously been a member for tours only.
The previous album moved away from their punk based origins and had a more produced feel to it. This new album moves further still, being almost folk at times. There are still a couple of growling tracks that link to past albums but this album has a more gentle pace. This is something that put many older Idlewild fans off but personally I love it.
So on to the songs;
1. Love steals us from loneliness
This song was the first single from the album and is very catchy, with strong vocal backing and a constant thumping base and drum line this song moves well and displays some strong lyrical work by Roddy, the perfect single it has a poppy mass appeal but retains a feeling of quality. 4/5
A song with 2 parts starting acoustic and broken by a solo towards the end this song starts slow and picks up pace and depth to the music. The lead guitar and base set Roddy's voice off very well, displaying an ability to make a song sound musically strong without the need to be loud and without choking the vocals which shine with lines like "as we live our lives through a series of glances as you smile without smiling for a whole 'nother year" Musically and lyrically a very mature and developed song 4.5/5
3. I want a warning
A song with a lot of distortion and effects it is one of two heavier songs on the album. Again great lines like “as you search for the quotes to make you seem complicated" seem to indicate that this song is intended to convey anger at someone and I think it works. Maybe slightly too much distortion but a good song none the less. Lyrics are the high point in this song 3.5/5
4. I understand it
The second single begins with acoustic guitar and vocals and the rest of the band just phase in (very like the video for this song) a good single that progresses well from start to finish. Not the most accomplished song on the album but a good song nonetheless. Good use of acoustic guitar 3.5/5
5. As if I hadn’t slept
A strong acoustic intro subsides to vocals and piano and then into another acoustic chorus that encourages a sing along with very good backing vocals. The lyrics come into their own towards the end and really lift the song, which finishes very strongly. The song seems to be dealing with a troubled relationship (don’t quote on that) with lines like “hold my hand…but it’s far too vague to be meaningful" and “held me like I was a shadow". The lyrics bring this song out well and good acoustic guitar4/5
6. Too long awake
A distorted song that stakes a while to get going never gets anywhere and stops. Not a strong track just a filler really
7. Not Just sometimes but always
A sad, slow, acoustic song that is very well constructed. The lyrics are again very powerful. It is Roddy’s ability to put poetic writing styles to well-styled and developed music that makes the songs so good. Not much to say its simple and effective. 4.5/5
8. Space between all things
The second heavier track, which feature a long middle break with no lyrics and a pounding bass. The distorted opening gives way to a bass/vocal pairing as the guitar cuts out and slowly builds back up to the chorus. A song that has been tampered with in the studio to allow the vocals to fit, but a great track regardless (excellent live). The second verse is again very quite and again builds up. This style gives an edge that means even as you listen to it you feel the impending chorus as the build up progresses. This song is a rare heavy moment 4/5
9. El Capitan (famous American beauty/suicide spot)
At first I did not like this song (third single) but listening carefully reveals touching lyrics stimulated by the subject of the song. Delicate piano throughout creates a reflective feel to the song. A personal song but its hard to really see his perspective. I feel it is a song that everyone can find his or her own meaning to. A delicate and well-written song with upbeat bridge towards end 4.5/5
10. Blame it on obvious ways
A combination of acoustic, electric guitar and a plodding bass give this song a good backing and dual lead vocals add extra strength. A song that really appeals to me and follows the previous number well. Great lyrics; “so we screamed out the wrong words to out own song with a kiss that tasted like drugs, and tasted like we’ll never ever make it home"
Again a well developed bridge towards the end and instrumental break provide a change in structure and lift the song making it one of the best songs on the album. 5/5
The last songs on albums can often be a boring end almost as if no one expects you to listen this far in. This album finishes with two of the best tracks on the album. Another slow starter with a stronger ending that really lifts you and gets you singing along. Listen to the lyrics 5/5
A more un-produced feel to this song gives a slow and gentle ending to this album. Strong drums and guitar enter after 2 minutes or so driving the song towards the end, which slows giving the song, a cyclical feeling as it changes before returning to the beginning.
A fair ending (there is a gap to a hidden ending repeating lines from too long awake) 3.5/5
A fantastic album, with incredible lyrics and accomplished musicians. Everyone will find a track on this album that appeals. A classic, due if nothing else to the ability to keep you listening throughout, and a great progression by a genuinely talented band. Also a great act to see live. This is my first review hope it’s not too long. Comments welcome.
Roddy Woomble (vocals)
Rod Jones (guitar)
Allan Stewart (guitar)
Gavin Fox (bass)
Colin Newton (drums)