Idlewild - The Remote Part

I first encountered Idlewild appearing as the opening act on the Evening Session Tour in the late 90s alongside Travis and Catatonia. Back in the day they were a noisy punk thrash wall of sound - all noise and no poise with the occasional spark of talent amongst all the pent up aggression. Then the songs improved immensely, still loud and raucous but with Melody and Style. "I See Shapes" was the single that really got them noticed and steadily the bands profile grew to the point where regular appearances on TOTP's and children's TV with part of the course.

Idlewild have been compared to both R.E.M and The Smiths in recent years, which is true to a certain extent, but in subtle low key manner as if to prove they haven't abandoned their rock roots, Idlewild keep it loud and proud and Roddy Woomble's voice is more natural than his earlier Americanized twang. "American English" which you'll have already heard is their finest single to date with a gorgeous vocal and an irresistible hook that builds to a crescendo and is an Idlewild classic in the making. Emotionally charged and sounding better ever time I hear it. "Live In A Hiding Place" is a semi-acoustic ballad seemingly harking back to childhood insecurity issues and the sparse instrumentation makes the impact even more moving. Despite the fact that much of the album was written and demo-ed using acoustic guitars it's not all quiet mood swings and lush instrumentation as "A Modern Way Of Letting Go" demonstrates.

Will the die hard Idlewild fans be disappointed by the bands change of direction and will this be the album that will help the band really make it in America? Who knows, but judged squarely on it's artistic merit "The Remote Part" is an impressive progression for the band. They've matured, but not to an extent of self indulgence and their sound is more ambitious and windscreen. While this is their best album to date, I suspect it will be a while before they reach their peak which means the best is yet to come.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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