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Idlewild – The Remote Part

Posted by August 13th, 2003 No Comments »

Capitol Records
By Graham Isaac

There’s a saying in your generic over-critical music circles that you’re “only as good as your last album.” I held to this saying until I heard Idlewild’s latest effort The Remote Part.

Their previous album, 2001’s 100 Broken Windows, effectively carved out its own space in my head, life and CD shelf. It was 38 minutes of which I wouldn’t change a second, with plenty of high points and no filler.

Idlewild – The Remote Part
Capitol Records
By Graham Isaac

There’s a saying in your generic over-critical music circles that you’re “only as good as your last album.” I held to this saying until I heard Idlewild’s latest effort The Remote Part.

Their previous album, 2001’s 100 Broken Windows, effectively carved out its own space in my head, life and CD shelf. It was 38 minutes of which I wouldn’t change a second, with plenty of high points and no filler.

Given that critical response to that disc was bordering on obsequious, I was not alone in my assessment. This is a hard act for The Remote Part to follow, and predictably it doesn’t slide comfortably into its predecessor’s shoes like one might hope. This is because Idlewild’s ambitions are reaching beyond the post-grunge REM vibe they achieved on their last effort.

There are more ballads this time around, and lead singer Roddy Woomble eschews the screams that occasionally peppered the rockers, favoring a decidedly more Morrissey-esque delivery. Idlewild’s newfound sweep leads to a manic depressive feel; the highs are really high and the lows. . . well, the lows are actually songs that would stand out in the repertoire of a lesser band, so there’s not much to complain about.

So in their habit of switching between numbers that sound like Morrissey fronting Husker Du (“A Modern Way of Letting Go”) and gentler pop numbers (“Tell Me Ten Words,”) they hit a few bland notes (“Century After Century”). I’d rather see them produce a little bit of dead wood and at least branch out. While it may not occupy quite as much time in my CD player as the last one did, it speaks to great new directions for the band. As Woomble sings in the second to last track, “you can’t stay the same.” – (7.5/10)


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