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Idlewild
Post Electric Blues Mark Russell , August 20th, 2009 09:59

A few years ago, after Idlewild bade farewell to another bassist and sat down to debrief after the Warnings/Promises tour, there was a feeling that the band took the criticism that they had gotten 'too folksy' to heart. The result seemed to be that the slower, more folk tinged songs would be released by Roddy as a solo album, leaving the meaty rock to Idlewild, supposedly bringing them back to their roots. As a result, Make Another World and My Secret Is My Silence both had some really good songs, but arguably suffered from a lack of the consistency of their earlier work; parts of MAW sounded like they were trying too hard to be something they weren't any more.

When Roddy starts the song 'Post-Electric Blues' with the lines "We've gone Post Electric – I've written down the concept", you get the feeling that, thankfully, they've stopped caring what people say and gone ahead and written a bloody good album instead. No-one realistically expects them to write 'Last Night I Missed All The Fireworks' again, and '(The Night Will) Bring You Back To Life' is a perfect demonstration of how far they're gone since being friends with the Captain. The song itself – a simple duet between Rod and Roddy – shows Rod's soft vocals become completely overshadowed by Roddy soaring over his like some unkempt Scottish diva. It's quite a revelation, and pretty much stamps the whole album with a bare-chested self confidence you're not used to seeing from the shaggy Scots.

Post Electric Blues still has its meaty rock moments by the shedload, as well as its catchy poppy moments – 'Readers & Writers' has such a good riff to it that it sounds like the band grabbed whatever buskers were in town that day and got them all to play along with them. Opening track 'Younger than America' continues Roddy's lyrical obsession with America, while Leeds boy Jones' guitars sound more and more like a set of overdriven bagpipes than ever. The standout moment on the album is easily 'Take Me Back To The Islands'; this is what Make Another World would have sounded like if they hadn't taken the folksy stuff elsewhere. It is a yearning, growing ode to solitude that brings in violins, hammonds, female backing vocals and tugs away on your heartstrings for the better part of five minutes.

It is also the perfect example of why Post-Electric Blues is such a good album; there's no more lack of discourage or shedding a shade of shyness, but a real unashamed grasp of where these thirty-something newlyweds and parents are in their lives right now. They make any comparisons with past efforts redundant by being so assured and proud of their present, and the result is a classically Scottish indie-rock album. As Green Day have been demonstrating for the better part of this millennium, trying to maintain your previous antics well into your thirties isn't really a realistic option, and Idlewild now have a new benchmark to live up to in the years to come.

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